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Uhurus decry arrests of relatives

Published May 14, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Members of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement demanded Friday that charges be dropped for two men accused of inciting a riot Sunday at Childs Park.

Police said Orin Montrell Walker, 23, and Dorian Tremayne Williams, 30, incited the crowd to violence and prevented authorities from arresting a man suspected of throwing a brick during a disturbance Sunday evening.

Both men are relatives of Jarrell S. Walker, who was killed by Pinellas sheriff's deputies in April during a drug raid at his home. Uhurus and family members said the arrests are an attempt to silence the family, which has protested the shooting.

Uhuru spokesman Chimurenga Waller demanded disciplinary actions be taken against police officers "who led the provocation in Childs Park." He said police were "reckless" and "run amok, fueling an already tense situation."

Waller said the police provoked the crowd by closing the park two hours early, forcing the peaceful gathering to disperse without reason.

But St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said police did not start breaking up the crowd until after the first brick was thrown.

"They do have a right to peacefully assemble, but they were done," Proffitt said. "They were already in the process of leaving the park when the man threw a brick through the back window" of a police cruiser.

A local pastor, Bruce Wright of Refuge Ministries, said "people of faith" need to stand up for the rights of African-Americans. He compared current tensions to those that led to disturbances in 1996.

Wright, who is white, said police have been "heavy-handed" with black residents.

[Last modified May 14, 2005, 02:15:04]

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