Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Toward Justice In Largo

Policemen dutifully protecting citizens
from the ominous threat of Don't Discriminate fliers

Reader alex sends along a link to Justice in Largo, created in support of Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith, who was arrested last week while trying to hand out Don't Discriminate fliers at the meeting during which city commissioners voted to dismiss transgender city manager Steve Stanton.

Smith was arrested during a heated hearing before the Largo City Commission in Florida, during which the commission voted 5–2 to begin the process of firing its 14-year city manager, Steve Stanton, because he announced his plans to transition from male to female.

The arrest occurred when Charlie Deppish of Tampa approached Smith and asked her for a flier that said only “Don’t Discriminate.” According to witnesses, Sgt. Butch Ward confronted Smith in the lobby and ordered her to take back the flier. When Smith asked why, Ward reportedly forced her into a side room where several officers violently shoved her to the floor and arrested her.

She has been charged with resisting arrest with violence, a felony, and disturbing others' assembly, a misdemeanor. Smith has been executive director of Equality Florida, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy organization, since 1997 and is nationally recognized for her leadership.

Check out the Web page, and if you haven't already done so, please take a moment to write a note of support for Ms. Smith, about whom Equality Florida chairman Amy Mandel writes:

Nadine Smith is nationally recognized social justice leader with two decades of experience in non-violent public education and advocacy.

She was peacefully participating in the Largo hearing alongside Mr. Stanton’s many supporters.

We believe Nadine is completely innocent.

On a personal note, Nadine has asked me to express both her thanks for the many notes of concern and support, as well as her deep deep disappointment at the decision to fire the Largo City Manager.

And thank you, as ever.

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