Summer Updates – Meeting notes and more
by BRUCE SEAMAN
This summer has seen some interesting developments.
A group of local young people formed a Facebook group named Black Lives Matter Ocala and quickly organized a rally on Ocala’s Downtown Square in July which Bridges Project supported - pictured above. Between 300-400 people attended the event which featured a variety of speakers. Before the event, tragedies involving police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge had occurred. It set a tone for the event which denied violence of any kind as an answer, expressed grief at the attacks, sympathy for the victim families, and support for law enforcement, and tried to focus the problem on the injustices faced by black people, particularly from law enforcement and the justice system. A great album of pictures from the event has been posted – click here to view.
County Sheriff Chris Blair was suspended from office, and recently withdrew his candidacy to return. Alachua County law enforcement professional Emery Gainey (pictured left) was named by Gov. Scott as Interim Sheriff. Among a host of actions aiming to stabilize the Sheriff’s Office amid significant turmoil, Gainey has reorganized a Citizen’s Advisory Council that had been begun by Blair. It includes several Bridges Project members. Former Chief of the Port Authority of NY-NJ Police Henry DeGeneste was voted as Chair of the Council, and former OPD Chief Morrey Deen was elected Vice Chair.