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HRC, NGLTF issue statement on arrest of Equality Florida leader in Largo

Thank goodness our advocacy organizations are stepping up to the plate on this one.

Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith was simply passing out fliers that said “Don’t discriminate” during a hearing where City Manager Steve Stanton announced he was going to transition MTF. The commission voted to fire Stanton, a highly regarded employee under fire from the fundies down in Largo, as well as Commissioner Mary Black, who said “I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager of the city of Largo.”

There are more details about Smith’s arrest from the HRC/NGLTF press release:

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.

And here’s the joint statement:

“HRC joins the Task Force in condemning these actions by Largo police,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign..

“Arresting a community leader for simply handing out a flier is disgraceful.”

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Smith’s arrest “directly associates the police department of Largo with the appalling bigotry expressed by the hundreds attending the poisonous hearing attacking an outstanding public servant, Steve Stanton.”

Meanwhile, Stanton mulls fighting the dismissal. The vote to fire started the clock on an appeal by hearing, so Stanton has five days to request that forum.

Stanton said he will request an appeal if he can prepare a presentation that thoroughly addresses various issues and concerns raised by commissioners and the community about transgender people.

But, otherwise, he said, he doesn’t want to put additional stress on employees.

…”If I can’t put together a decent appeal, I’m not going to disrupt the city organization,” Stanton said.

The commission will have 15 days and no more than 30 days to hold the hearing. The termination will be final if Stanton doesn’t request a hearing.

H/t, Michael.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding