Occupy Tampa protests Police killing of teen Javon Neal

07/30/12 Seán Kinane
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A week ago Tampa Police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old they say aimed a shotgun at them. On Saturday members of Occupy Tampa led a subdued protest in front of the police’s district 3 substation on 22nd Street.

Kelsy O’Morrow is a student at USF and a member of Occupy Tampa.

“I’m here because he’s a sixteen year old boy and the police department has yet to really reveal any details about what actually happened that night. All they have done is release and big, obscure picture of him on a staircase and I believe that the TPC should be transparent in their actions and that this would have never happened in a suburban neighborhood with a white 16 year old boy. I feel like the community in general should be a lot more outraged of this happening and asking a lot more questions.”

The day before the protest Tampa Police released a photograph they said was of the victim, Javon Neal, moments before he was killed. They say there’s an assault style shotgun sticking out of his shorts in the photo. Another protester, Bailey Riley is from Occupy Tampa. She said that’s not a good enough explanation for using deadly force.

“That was completely and 100% misleading and unrelated to the event. I mean if they don’t have a photograph of him in that situation exactly where he is shooting at the police or he has a gun in his hand facing the police, they obviously took that picture from some other place, some other place in time. That situation was completely unrelated and I’m not necessarily sure what that was suppose to do other than show people in the community that the boy was once holding a gun so maybe that means he was holding a gun again at another point in time.”

A Tampa Police Department spokesperson declined to be interviewed for this story. Instead, she referred to a letter Police Chief Jane Castor wrote to the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. In it, Castor wrote, “…Deadly force is a last resort and is used only when the life of a citizen or an officer is in imminent danger. It is a tragedy that Javon Neal, a 16 year old, would be armed with such a dangerous weapon as an assault style shotgun.”

Kelsy O’Morrow tied the shooting in Tampa to other places where police have killed citizens, like Anaheim, California.

“It’s disheartening to me to see that other people are not aware of this going on in their communities and aren’t concerned that this is a constant thing. It’s all over the United States, not just in Tampa but in Anaheim. There’s all this police brutality without any accountability. I don’t think that’s acceptable for me, living in Tampa.”

“And if it turns out that that was a shotgun in his pants would that change your mind?”

“No, because I believe that the TPD has been trained rightfully to deal with these situations and I believe that violence is always a last resort. If he was holding a shotgun to them then they should have been able to deal with it in a proper manner. No shooting him 14 times till death.”

Protester Susie Shannon thinks police need to investigate the officers who pulled the trigger, “put together eyewitness accounts for sure. … to look at the whole picture fairly.”

“Put together eye-witness accounts and put together as thero of an investigation as they can, not slanted towards the police version but just look at the whole picture fairly.”

Several of the protesters said they will hold other demonstrations against police violence in the coming weeks.

Here are photos of the demonstration.

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