By Hank McCoy
After George Floyd died after being suffocated by a knee to his neck after his arrest in Minneapolis, Americans all over the country began to get out and march against police brutality.
City commissioner Joshua Simmons of Coral Springs attended the protest in Fort Lauderdale on May 31, and we spoke to him about police brutality and changes that need to be made in the community.
The protest in Fort Lauderdale, which was scheduled to end at 6 p.m., was peaceful, according to Simmons, who added the incident involving the cop shoving the female protester sitting on the ground occurred at the tail end of the event — after many had already left.
“We just wanted to express ourselves, and I think it’s our First Amendment right — it’s one’s First Amendment right to exercise and protest peacefully. And that’s what it was for three hours. It was peaceful,” said Simmons.
After the event ended with the shoving, violence sparked between protesters and police.
From Emmett Till to George Floyd, Black Americans have been protesting for the same rights that the rest of white America has been afforded since the inception of the US.
It’s a shame, Simmons explains, that they must continue to have massive demonstrations across the US to fight against police brutality.
“The act itself can become radical in the eyes of many, a lot of these protests led by black people get viewed through such a criminal intent lens and viewed with just so much animosity and angst when that’s not fair.”
It’s a maddening situation said Simmons, Black America is told their whole life what having equal rights is supposed to look like, but the experiences don’t match up, and that’s what’s so hard to live with.
“I mean you had George Floyd, you had Brianna Taylor, you had Ahmaud Arbery and a few other folks all in the same month that were unjustly killed,” Simmons explained.
He hopes his role is to project calm reasoning and sound judgment to allow for those looking to express angst and ultimately to bring people together.
Simmons doesn’t sit on the sidelines on the issue of police brutality. He wants to fix the issues of systemic racism in our country together and believes the Coral Springs Police Department is proactive on the issue.
“He [Police Chief Perry] wants to make sure that our department is serving the community, that we’re protecting the community, and that we’re not against people.”
Simmons said there is still much work to be done, and the Coral Springs police department isn’t without its issues; however, CSPD has worked hard to be a part of the community — and not just to police those in the city.
“Some of the stuff that happens, happens outside of the training procedure and outside of the use of force procedures. They happen outside of everything that they’ve been trained to handle. So it’s kind of hard to say we’re going to make these changes when it’s an individual,” said Simmons.
The situation in the US is a fragile one, and it’ll take leaders from the local level working with members of the communities across America, to move forward from this dire place Americans have found themselves in, and Simmons said he is ready to do the work.
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- Hank McCoy is a writer and journalist covering music, politics, and culture on his blog Hank’s Luncheonette, as well as currently working on publishing his first novel. Hank grew up in Parkland and graduated from FAU before moving to Chicago where he worked in the music industry as an artist and talent booker when he wasn’t throwing people out of punk bars. Hank recently moved back to South Florida after living overseas in Berlin while he traveled to Europe.
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