Sarasota reacts to the racial tension in Missouri

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Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:58 pm

SARASOTA, Fla      Outside the Express Grocery in Newtown, people were talking about the racial tension near St. Louis where police shot an unarmed man.

Most people didn't want to talk on camera, but one man who only talked to us if we didn't show his face said it was wise to bring in a different lead agency.

"That's good hey bring the State Troopers in, so now they might have some peace, a little trust," he said.

But another Newtown resident, Ingrid Gibson, says switching lead agencies still wouldn't help her regain trust.

"It's a shame that a police officer that we look up to help us get away with murdering somebody," Gibson said.

We also brought the issue to the League of Women Voters candidates night at Selby Library in downtown Sarasota to ask the four candidates running for Sarasota County Commission what they thought about the situation in Missouri.

"There's a way to de-escalate without immediately going in. I saw a lot of weaponry and I didn't see a lot of shields and other things that are on the next level down," said current Sarasota City Commissioner Shannon Snyder who is retired from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

Snyder and his opponent Paul Cariguilo both feel having good relations goes a long way.

"As long as you keep open lines of communications, and you keep the discourse honest, it gets you to the right place," Caraguilo said.

And in the other race, both candidates agreed local law enforcement would have handled it differently.

"Immediately one of our law enforcement spokespeople or personnel would go out to the community and talk with them so I don't think it will blow up like it did in Missouri," said Lourdes Ramirez.

"There are many calm heads with significant relationships who would go in there and say, "hey, let's calm down and talk about this," said Alan Maio.

So how are Sarasota race relations according to residents in Newtown. In our highly unscientific poll, we found out it depends whom you ask--and when.

"I think they're pretty good, not bad here," said the initial man who wanted to remain anonymous.

"It's terrible in certain instances but not all the time," Gibson said.

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