All quiet on the Southeastern Front as public awaits statement from St. Petersburg Police regarding new case of Florida Man endangering protestors; power of Independent media grows

By: Moe Angelo

Far-right Florida Man is out of control, and is now taking it upon himself to protect the public from blocked roads by assaulting women and pointing a gun at protestors. It has been over 24-hours since a press release, and accompanying higher-quality video, shows what Police claim to be weapons drawn by protestors, were articles of their clothing, and not weapons. Yesterday, St. Petersburg Police announced via an edit to a Facebook post initially (and then a new post yesterday afternoon included below), that they have identified the gunman. This has been the only update or announcement from city officials.

IDENTIFIED! SPPD has identified the man pictured below. We would like to thank everyone who shared the…

Posted by St. Petersburg Police Department on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Watch the slow-motion, high definition footage below:

ST. PETERSBURG PEACEFUL PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT WHEN ALT-RIGHT COUNTER-PROTESTER BRANDISHES GUN, INJURES WOMAN; MEDIA GETS IT WRONG

(St. Petersburg, Florida)—On Saturday, September 26, a peaceful demonstration against racial injustice led by St. Pete Peace Protest turned violent when an alt-right counter-protester drew a handgun, chambered a round, and pointed it at protesters immediately after committing battery against a woman, according to Megan Fernandez of Fernandez Bardine Law, an attorney representing the group and the victims Kimberly Cox and Bryan Wombough. Ms. Cox and Mr. Wombough have filed formal criminal reports with the St. Petersburg Police Department. St. Pete Peace Protest is aware of an emerging public narrative—propagated by the St. Petersburg Police Department—that two of their peaceful demonstrators, both of whom are young black men, brandished weapons during the protest. This erroneous position has been advanced by the police department’s release to numerous media outlets of misleading photographs showing what law enforcement claim are knives. Unfortunately, the media have decided to publish these photographs without conducting due diligence and in the face of photographic evidence that neither Black demonstrator displayed a weapon during the protest. In response to this erroneous reporting, Fernandez Bardine Law, who furnished the accurate photographic evidence to the media, released the following statement to the Tampa Bay Times: [Note: Following the initial release of this statement, closer review of the footage revealed the protester wearing a red plaid shirt was holding a bandana during part of the protest and a black flip phone during another part. This iteration of the statement is updated to reflect this and the additional information is indicated by italicized brackets.]“We have reviewed hours of video footage and dozens of photographs from the protests Saturday night, including the images that the St. Pete Police Department has provided the Tampa Bay Times. Upon our review, we can categorically say that no knives are shown in the photographic evidence we have reviewed. In the footage, the man wearing the red plaid shirt is holding a black flip phone [during part of the protest and holding a bandana during another part of the protest] in his hand, and the shirtless man is holding his belt. We have spoken to multiple witnesses who can corroborate this information. We have also reviewed video that clearly shows that, at the time the counter-protester pulled out his gun and pointed it, his attention was not on the man alleged to have had a weapon, suggesting that he did not believe the man to have a weapon, either. Instead, he pointed his gun at an independent documentarian who was filming the incident. That person has come forward and will be making a report to the St. Pete Police Department. Photographic evidence suggests that nothing in the gunman’s body language or behavior indicates fear. Additionally, we have provided photographic evidence that suggests the gunman was consuming alcohol moments before brandishing his firearm- a firearm that was concealed from view in the waistband of the gunman’s shorts. Further, immediately before brandishing his weapon, the gunman pushed a female protester to the ground, causing her to be hospitalized with a concussion, contusions, and a probable broken tail bone. That woman has come forward and will also be filing a report with the St. Pete Police Department. St. Pete Peace Protest is committed to peaceful assembly, as their name connotes. The organization has members trained in de-escalation to ensure this mission, and that team was present and active during the protest. The only aggressors on Saturday night were the members of the alt-right.” Notwithstanding this correction of the record, the damage may be done, counsel for the group fears.“It is stunning that, after providing photographs clearly showing two men with a phone and a belt respectively, the media chose only to run the extremely misleading photographs in the coverage. Running the photos that the police provided without running the photos we provided, one of which showing a belt so clearly that you could see that it was brown leather, is a shocking choice that cannot in any stretch of the imagination be considered journalism in the true sense of the word. In making the choices they have made, the media and the police department have put the lives and freedoms of innocent young black men in jeopardy. It is a choice that fan the flames that have brought us to this pivotal place in our history,” said Ms. Fernandez.Johnny Bardine, Ms. Fernandez’s law partner, was similarly disappointed by media and police carelessness.“As a direct result of the media’s negligence and the police department’s malfeasance, these young men will be tried in the court of public opinion, and there is no doubt in our minds that those who wish to cause them—as well as other peace protesters—harm will be emboldened. The Tampa Bay Times has taken a story about a gun being brandished and made it yet another hit piece on two young Black men by choosing one set of photos over the other, and that is shameful and dangerous,” Mr. Bardine said.While the footage the attorneys have reviewed shows that neither peaceful protester possessed a knife, it does illuminate several other crimes perpetuated by the alt-right counter-protesters. Specifically, according to Ms. Fernandez, the footage shows the assault of both adults and minors, various acts of battery, and the use of hate speech directed toward the peaceful demonstrators.“More victims are finding the courage to come forward and we anticipate filing additional criminal complaints in the coming days,” Ms. Fernandez said.As of the date of this news advisory, the identity of the gunman is still unknown. Only one officer was present at the protest directly following the incident. This officer was approached onsite with witness and video corroboration. Although the officer spoke to the gunman, the officer declined to review the video evidence or take down the gunman’s name, a decision that Police Chief Anthony Holloway called “a mistake” in his remarks to the Tampa Bay Times. Fernandez Bardine Law implores anyone with information that could lead to the gunman’s apprehension to immediately contact the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Posted by St. Pete Peace Protest on Thursday, October 1, 2020
Filmed by str34m

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the power of independent media and citizen journalism is rapidly growing, right alongside the exponential advancement of technology, and because of this, is under heavy attack. It is obvious that with small amounts of effort, citizens now have the power to hold their leaders accountable, in ways that previously were not possible. str34m is seeking your help to both protect and advance the growth of independent media.

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We are facing an unprecedented reality where American journalists are being attacked and vilified by their own government, or anyone with dissenting opinions, as a way to silence the voice of the people and continue to hide from accountability. At the same time, the power, and sheer size, of independent media and citizen journalism is growing at an exponential rate

The crippled state of multiple industries due to global pandemic, combined with the increasingly apparent class war being waged, has made it nearly impossible for our t34m at Str34m to continue creating impactful content for people, not profit.

In the last few months, we have shown the voices of protesters from Portland to Tampa, Richmond to Seattle, Texas to North Carolina. Through these travels and coverage, it has become increasingly apparent that many of our trusted institutions, like police departments, have a history of misrepresentation in the media of their own ideologies when measured and calculated using Stuart Hall’s representation theory. str34m’s live coverage of local and nationwide events is being picked up by larger news outlets and providing crucial information to people that has traditionally been lost between the street and the newsroom. Our behind-the-screens efforts include the development of open-source technologies for creators and broadcasters, an example of which is a new, fully-secure and untraceable operating system called Orchid.

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We are looking to raise $25,000 in this effort. We will use these funds to upgrade and repair our equipment, in order to keep us as safe as possible while continuing to document these often dangerous events. The funds will also be used to grow our network of independent journalists, providing them with the proper technology and protection to keep them safe in these increasingly dangerous coverage locations. 

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