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Diversion deal on table for #Tally19, not all accepting offer

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A deal is on the table for some of the protestors who were arrested on September 5 in front of Florida’s Capitol. The group has named themselves the Tally 19.

However, the offer is not a done deal for everyone; the offer is only for protestors who were charged with misdemeanors. Those charged will felonies are not eligible.

If protestors choose to take the deal, they would enter a diversion program, but some say that’s not good enough and they’ll take their chances at trial.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox brought together protestors, law enforcement, and the state attorney in a meeting; that ended in Jack Campbell’s offer of a diversion program.

“Hindsight is 20-20. Perhaps some things that triggered, that perhaps if we had done better planning, or done better work, perhaps those things may not have triggered,” said Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox.

She said the deal may not be perfect, but it would allow protestors to leave the table with clean records.

“Sometimes, you just have to be strategic and look at, ‘What are my future plans?'” she continued.

If the deal is taken, protestors would enter a diversion program, attending the City of Tallahassee’s virtual race relations summit. Charges against them would be dropped, and they could then apply to have their records expunged.

The summit is scheduled for October 29th; protestors would also attend a breakout session about how to safely and lawfully protest.

Attorney Mutaqee Akbar says some of his clients see the deal as closure.

“Others are outright rejecting it, which they have the right to do,” he said. “A lot of it is standing in solidarity with others whose cases won’t be dropped.”

One of those protestors is Trish Brown. She’s one of 15 facing a single misdemeanor charge.

“It’s because I don’t feel I did anything wrong,” she said. “After seeing so many of our charges being consolidated, I think that they know that this is wrong.”

Akbar says the arrests cast a shadow over future protests.

“Honestly, I think that was the goal. To come out in force, show force in that measure, and to kinda make people think twice about protesting in the fashion that protesting had been going on," he said.

Brown added, “What are we if we can’t speak out about what we feel is an injustice in our community? So we can’t be silent now.”

For those who aren’t accepting the offer, Akbar says they’re ready to go to trial to fight for their First Amendment rights. The next court appearance for most of the protestors is listed for November 4.

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