Two civil rights organizations are teaming up calling for justice and equity. Equality Florida and the Foundation For a Healthy St. Petersburg are also denouncing white supremacy.
The two groups penned an open letter. Off the bat, it cites the president not clearly condemning white supremacy at the presidential debate on September 29.
"It thrives in silence. It takes silence as complicity and it empowers those who engage in hateful behavior," Equality Florida's Executive Director Nadine Smith said. "We will never be silent when white supremacists come to our city and try to intimidate us."
Smith says the president's comments during that debate prompted the idea of the letter. Then she saw a video of tense moments at a St. Pete protest the Saturday before the debate.
ABC Action News obtained that video showing a counter-protester pulling a gun on protesters marching after Louisville police were not indicted for Breonna Taylor's death. St. Pete Police told us that protester had a knife. Pictures were later provided by St. Pete PD of the incident.
Equality Florida is the largest state organization advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. The Foundation For a Healthy St. Petersburg works for a healthy community and prioritizes racial equity. Smith says the two coming together for this cause is perfect because both help marginalized communities get over obstacles put in place by systems that discriminate against them.
"The presence of Healthy St. Pete has been to constantly reinforce and remind people these are interlocking systems we have to dismantle in order for there to be an equitable world for all of us regardless of race, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of gender, and regardless of the zip code into which you were born," Smith said.
She says speaking up and speaking out is the first step to making real change.
"We thought it was even more critical to create some platform where elected leaders, community leaders, civic leaders could affix their name and say 'this is where I stand and that kind of hate is not welcome in our streets,'" Smith said. "It's very important to see elected leaders, organizational leaders, community leaders, civic leaders not just privately saying isn’t this terrible, but publicly saying we stand together."
More than 150 people have signed the letter including several local leaders:
- Rick Kriseman, Mayor of St. Petersburg
- Kanika Tomalin, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of the City of St. Petersburg
- Rev. Watson Haynes, President & CEO of Pinellas County Urban League
- Terri Lipsey Scott, Executive Director of Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
- Martin Tadlock, Regional Chancellor of USF St. Pete
- Dr. Christine Cantrell, Institute of Equity Competence
- Jennifer Webb, House of Representatives from Pinellas District
- Brad Miller, CEO of Pinellas County Suncoast Transit
- Tim Dutton, Director of UNITE Pinellas
- Christopher Jones, Executive Director of Florida Legal Services