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Mayor, Police Chief discuss George Floyd killing

Left to right: Mayor Lauren Poe, City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, Chief Tony Jones (unknown officer behind Jones), City Commissioner Gail Johnson, Chief Inspector Jorge Campos

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones, and Chair of the Police Citizen Advisory Council Craig Carter gave a press conference today outside City Hall.

Mayor Poe began, “For 400 years, certain members of our community have been made to feel terrified to walk around in their own bodies and their own skin, and we were reminded about that fear yet again, with George Floyd’s murder. We acknowledge that the most valuable tool our police officers have is the trust of their community, and when incidents like this happen, that trust is eroded.” He said that media, especially social media, is “shining a spotlight on the disproportionate violence faced by people with brown and black skin. We acknowledge the impact that racism and racial violence have on our own neighbors, and we will work to defend the rights and lives of all of our neighbors, especially those with brown and black skin.

“We understand your lives depend on how well we serve and protect you, and the Gainesville Police Department stands unified in this mission.”

Craig Carter said the Police Citizen Advisory Council is the citizens’ mouthpiece. The council communicates directly with the Police Chief, the captains, the mayor, and the city manager. “You should not live in fear in your own community, no matter what the color of your skin is.” If residents have concerns about the police, they can send them to the official email address, gpdpac@cityofgainesville.org, but Carter said that since some people are “very suspicious of government,” he wants people to have his personal email: craigezgo@gmail.com. He said he would personally take any concerns to the Chief, “and I will guarantee you your voice is heard in the city of Gainesville.”

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Chief Tony Jones said, “The death of George Floyd… is alarming and is unacceptable, and my prayers go out to Mr. Floyd’s family. While we do not have all the facts of this incident, the neighbors of this community should know that the actions of the officers that I saw on that video, as portrayed, are not in line with the training, and it’s not in line with the philosophy, of the Gainesville Police Department.”

He said that trust is a key foundation of the partnership between the police department and the community. “What I saw on the video erodes trust in police, not only in that city but around this particular nation.” He asks his officers to practice the “three C’s”: Compassion to other humans, Consistent in their actions regardless of who they are dealing with, and Constitutional. “What I saw on the video, and I don’t know all the facts, that didn’t appear to be constitutional.”

A reporter asked Mayor Poe whether he would be at the March for our Freedom tomorrow. He responded, “My wife and my children and myself will all be there… Rain or shine, no matter… how hot this mask gets, we’ll be there.”

In response to a question about whether the city is concerned that what happened in Minneapolis could happen here, Jones said, “Your police agency has to be reflective of the community that you serve. You’ve got to reflect the demographics of the community… you’ve got to have that line of communication, but you also have to have that line of representation.”

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