Rally on behalf of Riley at City Hall

Photo courtesy: Cynthia Frage

The Tallahassee Community Action Committee — an organization that fights for community control of the police and does direct action work against police brutality — called for a rally at City Hall Wednesday during the City Commission meeting. Their mission: to demand justice for Calvin Riley Sr. by requesting the resignation of Officer Kiersten Oliver.

Riley was arrested last week and was found guilty on Monday despite the body camera footage of Officer Oliver allegedly planting DUI evidence on Riley.

Due to the severity of this case, about 60 people showed up at City Hall as orchestrated by TCAC. There were many in-person public testimonies and a few virtual testimonies throughout the duration of the hearing.

“We just want to hold our city commissioners… accountable for their role in attacking citizen police review boards,” said Delilah Pierre, a member of TCAC. “We believe that the police feel encouraged to plant evidence and get away with it, is because of our state representatives and commissioners who directly undermine police accountability.”

In January, the  Legislature pushed for Senate Bill 576, which will ban review boards that investigate local law enforcement. According to WFSU Public Media, this bill, which cleared both chambers and has been signed not law by Governor Ron DeSantis, will prohibit counties and municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances related to “the receipt, processing, or investigation … of complaints of misconduct by law enforcement or correctional officers.” 

It will take effect in July.

This bill has prompted growing concern from many Tallahassee residents and with the Calvin Riley case coming to the forefront it has made it worse.

Michael Clark, a defense attorney, took to the stand to express his concerns for his safety. 

“I am here as a citizen, what concerns me is what happened to Calvin Riley seems like it could happen to me or anyone here … this is ultimately why I feel unsafe at any moment when these things happen. I would like for there to be some accountability so I can feel safe.”

Malik Ready, a freelance organizer, also spoke at the hearing to advocate for a better police review board. “I happen to have the opportunity to serve as a police review member… but I don’t know if were really here to build a community and transform lives,” Ready said. 

“We have to be truthful about the situation … we are not making Tallahassee better. My heart hurts today, we got to do better,” he added.

After all of the public testimonies, Commissioner Jacqueline Porter said, “They [Tallahassee citizens] deserve change.”

  Porter had a some closing remarks, “I saw the video and I am disturbed by what I saw. I was disturbed by the response from our chief… and it’s disappointing and it demonstrates the disrespect for us as individuals and the people that elected us.”

“We want the news and public to know what’s really going on and we need the Tallahassee community to rally against this,” Porter added.