Editor’s Note: This is a continuing story. A more in-depth story will be printed in the next issue of the Tangent.
On Mar. 22, Newtown resident Darnesha McMillan called Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to help fellow Newtown resident, Chad Washington. What occurred after this point has been a source of incongruity between the Sarasota Police Department (SPD) and local activist organizations in Sarasota that has resulted in arrests, protests and a march scheduled for this Saturday.
According to the SPD, Washington was allegedly under the influence of drugs. He was charged with three counts of battery on a police officer and possession of drugs without a prescription. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the SPD allegedly did not use a weapon on Washington. After having received medical services, Washington was reportedly arrested on an outstanding warrant.
McMillan, who remained present during the alleged assault, stated in an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that she was unsure why police were present at her home. She states that Washington suffers from mental health issues and was having a seizure: her reason for contacting EMS in the first place.
“Instead of them coming to help, they came to brutalize and use excessive force out of fear of him being a Black male,” McMillan wrote in a press release for a previous protest held on Sunday, Mar. 23. “They knew nothing about a warrant until he was discharged out of the hospital. The call had nothing to do with what the cops are trying to portray. They did this all while my children were standing there watching which is traumatizing and [has left] my children [in] fear of law enforcement.”
This previous protest took place at 2 p.m. at Fredd Glossie Atkins Park on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and North Washington Boulevard. The protest, which was held by Answer Suncoast, Black Lives Matter (BLM) Sarasota and Manatee counties chapter and the Rodney Mitchell Foundation.
The upcoming march will take place on Saturday. The event is being organized by Answer Suncoast, BLM and the Rodney Mitchell Foundation. The march is scheduled to take begin at 7:30 p.m. at Five Points Park near the Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota. From there, demonstrators will continue until they reach the SPD office located on 2099 Adams Lane.
More information about this protest can be found on the event Facebook page.