Florida Speaks Tour stops on the Suncoast

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SARASOTA, FLA. - Residents of Sarasota and Manatee Counties had a chance on Saturday morning to share their personal stories of civil liberty violations in a town hall meeting. The meeting was part of the Florida Speaks Tour. Many in the crowd shared stories of police injustice.

“Excessive force by the police has unfortunately been one we have heard in every location,” said Cornelle Maxfield, President of the Manatee/Sarasota Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.

Saturday’s tour stop, Manatee/ Sarasota Speaks, was the third stop of Florida Speaks Tour hosted by the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida.

“This is not a democratic issue at all. This is not a partisan issue, this not a political issue, this is a civil rights issue and it is not a racial issue,” Maxfield told ABC 7.

Many of the stories documented at the Manatee/Sarasota Speaks event had a familiar sound to the tour organizers.

“Time and time again you hear issues that seem to be isolated but as we travel around the state we notice that there is consistencies with the stories,” said the President of Democratic Black Caucus Henry Crespo, Sr.

Palmetto City Commissioner, Charles Smith was one of the panel members documenting the stories from the public.

“These are actually real people from a diverse community, white, black and Latino that have actual issues that are concrete that affected their lives and some of them have still are being affected and they are screaming out for help,” said Smith.

The stories and testimonies shared on Florida Speaks Tour were documented on video and tour organizers collected the contact information of those who told their stories.

“We will follow up with a lot of these testimonies to get more clarity to the situation. More validity if you want to say,” said Crespo.

The tour is also designed to empower individuals who feel like victims by giving them a chance to stand together.

“There may be some challenges from top to bottom but they are not alone. You are not alone,” Crespo reassured.

“The Florida Speaks Tour will continue holding town hall meetings across the state of Florida. The collected stories will then be presented in Tallahassee to the Governor and his cabinet and to state legislators. The ultimate goal of the Florida Speaks Tour is to set in motion an action plan to address the concerns of those who often feel no one cares about how they were violated.