Benefit Concert at Fogartyville for Victims of Police Brutality



Social justice advocates and local musicians have announced a benefit concert this Saturday, September 22, at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. A combined community forum, potluck dinner and concert, all funds raised go towards three area families that organizers argue have been victims of police brutality. Organized by ANSWER Suncoast, the event will be part of Fogartyville’s 2018 Campaign Nonviolence National Week of Action.

The three incidents in question span around nine weeks in 2018, beginning with the controversial tazing and arrest of Chad Washington on March 22 by Sarasota Police Department officers, which was caught on video and released to widespread reaction, and corroborated by the officer's police report. On April 13, the same officer was again involved in a controversial incident, this time firing into an occupied SUV and striking two black teenagers, including Jeremy Trebbles, Jr. The third incident, on May 27, saw that same officer, and others, responding to a family dispute and becoming involved in a brawl with multiple suspects, which resulted in another tazing and use of mace, according to multiple police reports.

Organizers claim a pattern, and expressed discontent and disapproval at what they saw as lack of disciplinary action taken by Sarasota Police Department Chief Bernadette DiPino. Still, says one organizer, Saturday’s concert isn’t a protest and isn’t about any desired action from the police department in response. Rather, the focus is on trying to help the families they see as the victims, by raising money for legal and medical costs incurred.

“In each of these three cases, these families have had really substantial financial hardships as a result of these incidents,” says Josh Scheible, New College graduate and member of the local band, Physical Plant, which will headline the show alongside the Lesa Silvermore Band. “We’re looking for something concrete we can do to help,” he says. And though Scheible insists he can only fairly speak for himself on such an issue—not for all the organizers or even members of his band—there is one universal he feels comfortable with. “When it comes down to it,” he says, “no one is in favor of police brutality.”

The doors open at 8pm at Fogartyville, with a $5 cover charge to get in—all going to a $2,000 goal for the families (donations will be accepted as well, and a GoFundMe page has been created). For the first hour, attendees will enjoy a potluck community dinner while hearing from the families involved, who will relay their experiences and stories. After that, the Lesa Silvermore Band will take the stage, followed by Physical Plant.

When reached for comment, the Sarasota Police Department released the following statement: “At the Sarasota Police Department, we have numerous and ample reviews of cases. Internally we have oversight of police operations within our agency to include an Internal Affairs review, Chief review and Training Division review. Outside our agency, the City of Sarasota has a Police Complaint Committee and Independent Police Advisory panel and the State Attorney’s Office also reviews cases. All of these, internal and external reviews, are in an effort to ensure things like police brutality don’t happen.” The department also notes that an internal affairs review of the Washington incident determined no inappropriate action on part of the officers involved.

Pictured: Darnesha McMillan, fiance to Chad Washington, speaking at a June 20 ANSWER Suncoast press conference for survivors of police brutality. Photo courtesy of ANSWER Suncoast.

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