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Protests And Calls For Police Reform Continue In Orlando

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Protesters gather outside Orlando City Hall in June. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Protests that swept the country after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May are continuing. The shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin last month prompted a new round of protests and calls for an end to police brutality. 

And in Orlando, activists are protesting the fatal shooting of 22 year old Salaythis Melvin by an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy at the Florida Mall last month. Activists are calling for reform and Melvin’s family wants answers.

Carlus Haynes, the attorney for Salaythis Melvin’s mother, Michelin McKee, says deputies were trying to arrest another man who Melvin was with at the mall. He says Melvin was running away when he was shot in the back. Haynes says the deputies were in unmarked vehicles and plain clothes. 

According to reporting in the Orlando Sentinel and other media outlets, the deputy who shot Melvin- James Montiel- said he was holding a gun in his waistband, and that he feared he would shoot. 

“We just look at it that his life was cut way too short, over nothing,” Haynes tells Intersection.

“I mean, I keep saying that he’s running from you. He’s not who you want. Leave him alone. I mean, there’s no no need for you to even try to apprehend him.”

Haynes says Melvin’s mother is calling for changes at the Sheriff’s office: for body cameras to be worn by deputies in the unit involved in her son’s shooting; for a policy to not shoot a suspect who is running away; and for the family of someone who is shot by a law enforcement officer to be notified immediately.

“She had to wait 10 plus hours to find out that her son had died,” says Haynes.

“And from what we’re told he didn’t die on the scene. He died sometime in the hospital after fighting for his life.”

Listen to the interview with Carlus Haynes here:

Joining Intersection to discuss the issues are Tina Wilson with the Juneteenth Protest Coalition and Miles Mulrain, founder of the non profit Let Your Voice Be Heard. 

“We’re sick and tired of our children being targeted by law enforcement, especially in underserved communities, in West Orange [County], in West Orlando,” says Wilson, who organized a protest outside the Orange County Sheriff’s Office last weekend.

Mulrain says  he met with Sheriff John Mina last week to discuss the protests and the Melvin case.

“We don’t see eye to eye on how long this process takes,  on the fact that it’s so delayed, the justice, or the fact that the police officer, you know, or that the sheriff is not gonna make a statement until after FDLE is done [with its investigation],” says Mulrain.

Mulrain says Sheriff Mina was receptive to listen to his concerns, but “I let him know that this meeting will not be the end. It will be great if  he reaches out to other other groups, and we all have a chance to have dialog because it does not get solved with just a couple of weeks in a row: it gets solved with long term changes and real commitment.”

Listen to the full conversation by clicking the audio player at the top of the page.

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About Matthew Peddie

Matt Peddie