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How House Negro politics is blocking Orlando police reforms

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Remember Stephen, the loyal slave plantation House Negro in the 2012 movie “Django Unchained”?
That role of Stephen the House Negro is being played out in real life by political operative Russell Drake, who is working behind the scenes to block one of Orlando's most outspoken black activists from Orlando City Hall discussions to end police brutality and systemic racism. Drake is the first vice president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.



Monday night in a lengthy Facebook thread, Drake wrote that Lawanna Gelzer should be barred a meeting that Mayor Dyer is planning with some of the activists who organized recent massive street protests held after the police murder of George Floyd.
One of the activists T.J. Legacy Cole posted the message: “I informed @citybeautiful @orlandomayor office I will NOT exclude prominent activist Lawanna Gelzer from our police reform meeting. Black women’s voices are so critical to our movement. She deserves to be heard.”



True to the character of Step…

Orlando City Hall pissed on Parramore again

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Orlando City Hall must think people in Parramore don’t need to pee.
What other reason would there be for leaving Parramore out of the DTO Go Public Bathroom Pilot Program?


The bathroom program is a product of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency to improve life in Orlando’s urban core.
The demographics of Parramore -- a historically black, struggling community -- were used to create the CRA, which is roughly bounded by Westmoreland Drive, Colonial Drive, Gore Street, and Summerlin Avenue.
Yet since late last year when this portable bathroom project was launched it has not been stationed in the Parramore community.
It is mainly located and operated to serve the mostly white patrons of downtown’s nightclub and restaurant district east of Interstate 4.
A city fact sheet on the bathroom project explained: “There is an increasing need to provide public restrooms in the downtown core.”
Asked why Parramore was excluded, even though the community played a pivotal role in the establishment of th…

Orange County residents required to mask up

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Starting Saturday (6/20) everybody who goes outside on Orange County will be required to wear a face covering to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an executive order requiring everyone to wear a mask starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.



The mask requirement is a big step backward as Orange County and the rest of Florida had relaxed many of the tough measures imposed this spring when officials issued stay-at-home orders as the deadly pandemic ripped across the nation.
After the orders lifted recently and people ventured out to shopping and work, some people ignored warnings to wear masks.
Now the number of Covid-19 cases is starting to soar again with 3,200 new cases reported in Florida. Nearly 86,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Florida resulting in more than 3,000 deaths, 48 deaths in Orange County.
Data shows that this deadly disease disproportionally harms black and brown people, especially those with chronic illnesses. Recently th…

Celebrate Juneteenth on Friday (6/19)

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Orlando’s Juneteenth Celebration Friday (6/19) is coming right on time and in step with nearly daily demonstrations in O-town to end police brutality and systemic racism.



Activities will kick off with a car caravan and a freedom walk with a rally near the bandshell at Lake Eola at 3 p.m., a block party in the 600 block of West Pine Street near the soccer stadium at 4 p.m., and a free screening of the critically acclaimed film “Just Mercy” in the plaza at Orlando City Hall, starting at 8 p.m.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
The Orlando event is one of 40 around the country being held Friday by the Juneteenth Leadership Coalition that includes the Arc of Justice; SEIU/32BJ; Until Freedom; The Gathering For Justice; The Indigenous Peoples Movement; celebrities Yandy Smith and Kristen Scott; public officials and activists including Tamika Mallory; Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr; the Rev. M…

Only 5% of arrests are for serious crimes

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When Orlando officials say the police can’t be defunded they either don’t know what they’re talking about, or they have a vested interest in wasting millions of dollars on ineffective and counterproductive police services.
A report by the highly respected Vera Institute of Justice shows that of the 10 million arrests police throughout the U.S. make annually, only about 5% are for serious crimes, such as rape and murder.



Most of the other arrests – 80% -- were for drug violations and offenses such as disorderly conduct.
Arrests for trivial reasons make it difficult for people to get jobs and feed the prison pipeline. No wonder the United States has more people in prison – almost 2.5 million – than any other country.
The arrests for trivial offenses disproportionally occur in black, brown, and poor white communities. The war on drugs is a big part of the problem. Between 1980 and 2016 drug arrests soared by 171%.
The Vera Institute study shows that most of the public has little confidence in…

Mayor Dyer's unholy relationship with OPD

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Here are some handy facts you need at your fingertips the next time someone asks why police need to be defunded.
The Orlando Police Department gobbles up 31 percent of the city’s annual budget.


No other department comes close – not even the Orlando Fire Department which only gets 24 percent of the budget, even though firefighters and EMTs save lives every day.
Other city departments – such as recreation and economic development – only get tiny fractions of the budget. To see this year’s Orlando budget, click here. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the cops are very tight. During last year’s election the Fraternal Order of Police not only endorsed Dyer’s re-election to a 5th term, but the police group contributed $1,000 – the maximum allowed – to the campaign.
It’s no surprise that Dyer quickly said he doesn’t plan to consider defunding the police.
The Fraternal Order of Police thanked Dyer and helpfully offered to help “review” the OPD use-of-force policy.
OPD probably has the worst use of force…

Winter Garden bar proudly sports a racist name

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The owners of a Winter Garden apparently think slavery was fun. Why else would they name their business “MoonCricket Grille”?



MoonCricket Grille is on Plant Street in the heart of West Orange County’s Winter Garden trendy downtown restaurant district.
A quick Google search shows that Moon Cricket is a highly derogatory name referring to the slaves singing like crickets at night after a long day working in the fields.
The restaurant’s website explains the business’s name this way: “We wanted a name that was catchy, whimsical and unique, and conveying the message of being a fun inviting place to enjoy great food and entertainment.After months of brainstorming came up with the name ‘The MoonCricket Grille.’That was it, a fun hoppin' place.In that same happy whimsical spirit, designed a fun corporate logo with a big smiling Crescent MOON and a CRICKET jumping off the smiling moon's head.”
Joshua Eaton said the name is not whimsical. It’s racist.
Eaton, who is white, started a petition …