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Why Andrew Warren left Tampa’s Charlottesville vigil

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Activist Jae Pass is not backing down from her criticism of the Tampa Police Department‘s at a vigil Sunday evening in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Things got so heated that it prompted an early exit from Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.

The rally was at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square, across the street from the Confederate monument that has engulfed Hillsborough County politics this summer.

Before introducing a representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Pass criticized the police and those who disagreed with her comments about them.

“To the police who are out here: Number one, you were not invited. You are agents of oppression, and the communities of black and brown people, you were not invited, and we will not you use as agents,” she said, eliciting some boos from the audience.

“If you don’t like what we say about police — no one is keeping you here against your will — you can leave,” Pass said. “We want you to leave … we don’t promote police brutality against anybody out here … so we don’t need your help out here. And if you like the police and don’t like what I’m saying, then you can leave, too.”

Some in the audience did leave at that time, though the majority of the crowd of several hundred did stay. One of those who left was Warren, who had been standing behind the first group of speakers at the event.

In a statement issued Monday morning, spokesperson Rena Frazier said: “State Attorney Andrew Warren attended the vigil and, after being asked, intended to speak about unity and solidarity in contrast to the message of hate at Charlottesville.

“However, he left the vigil before speaking when some of the speeches departed from the message of unity and became divisive.”

In his own statement, Warren said, “America is founded on the bedrock principle enshrined in our Declaration of Independence: the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. We must take a stand against those who reject American values: e Pluribus Unum; out of many, one.”

On her Facebook page Monday, Pass wrote: “I don’t care that Andrew Warren was there and left because he didn’t like what was said. We agreed as a collective that elected officials wouldn’t speak, same reason we didn’t put Jesse on the speakers list or akile or Pat Kemp or Les Miller or any of the people running for local office. We agreed that if elected officials wanted to stand in solidarity they could pass out waters and check out people throughout the crowd.”

“Jesse” and “akile” are (presumably) Jesse Nevel and Akile Cainion, who are running for St. Petersburg mayor and City Council, respectively. No public officials spoke at the event.

Pass also wrote in her post that he had a “big problem” with people being more upset about his comments about the police than when activist Ashley Green quoted a white supremacist who told a black organizer that she was a “hunted bitch.”

Green also went on to say in her remarks about a document that supporters of maintaining the Confederate statue in Hillsborough County distributed last week. It was on all of the people who spoke out against the monument before the Board of County Commissioners voted to move the monument, including listing their phone numbers and addresses.

“This is the kind of quality classiness that you can expect from defenders of monuments of the Confederacy, and you can believe that they’re working hard to foment the same sentiment here in Tampa that was fomented in Charlottesville,” she said.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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