A "Rock" and a Hard Place

The secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is issuing a formal apology for showing a Chris Rock video during a meeting last summer with members of the NAACP.

The video made fun of the relationship between police and the black community on issues of racial profiling and police brutality. While many black legislators are outraged, others think the controversy is being blown out of proportion.

Members of Florida’s Black Legislative Caucus were not amused when they heard a top state official showed the video by comedian Chris Rock to leaders of the NAACP.

Department of Juvenile Justice secretary Anthony Schembri, only on the job a few months, reportedly showed the tape to highlight his concerns about media portrayals of racial profiling.

Sen. Mandy Dawson/ (D) Ft. Lauderdale, says, "This is an inappropriate tape under any circumstances for them. He didn’t even know them."

Senators who viewed the tape this week called it vulgar and racist and vowed to attempt to block Schembri’s confirmation when it comes before them this spring, but there is division even within the Black Caucus over the controversy involving the videotape.

Rep. Curtis Richardson says it’s been blown out of proportion. He says he supports Schembri and his efforts to tackle the tough problems in juvenile justice.

"We want to be able to work with him to address those issues that are much more important to me than a videotape, so, I hope this incident does not harm the relationship."

We showed the videotape to a Florida State University professor who specializes in race relations involving police. Ashby Plant says the video was probably not a good choice given the wide range of emotions and opinions on the issue. At least she says people are talking now

Ashby says, "It’s important to get the dialogue going. That wouldn’t have been my choice of how to get the dialogue going, but I think understanding different peoples’ perspectives is a very important early step if you’re going to have a resolution."

Schembri has issued a brief a letter apologizing to anyone who may have taken offense at the video.


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