OAKLAND PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida community still reeling from a string of violent police takedowns documented in videos that have gone viral came together to share their stories and to demand answers and accountability from law enforcement.
It started with songs and laughter, but the reason behind Monday night’s gathering, hosted by Black Lives Matter at a church in Oakland Park, was deadly serious: how to respond to the rough arrest of 15-year-old Delucca Rolle by Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies in Tamarac last week.
“The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to basically turn everybody’s anger and rage into action but action that actually could be sustainable,” said Tifanny Burks with Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward.
Organizers said they aimed to give a forum to the community, especially young people, to talk about their experiences with law enforcement.
“You can’t even breathe because you’re afraid something might happen,” said a young man at the meeting, “so that was my experience with law enforcement: not being able to breathe every time I see a police car.”
“I cannot imagine that being my child,” said a woman during the meeting, referring to Rolle.
The blistering topic ended up being too much for Tequila Waters, whose son Damian Martin drowned after running from police in Sunrise, March 8. He was 16 years old.
“That’s all I want. I want some justice,” she said as she fought back tears. “I need some answers. I want some justice.
Martin’s family shared what they said was cellphone video of the scene.
Waters said she’s still looking for answers.
“I know nothing … I know that my son is not here with me,” she said.
“It’s not going to take one action or one meeting to actually get justice. It’s going to take a commitment,” said Burks.
Organizers of Monday’s meeting said they have walkouts and a rally planned in an effort to ensure this issue stays in the spotlight.
The deputies seen in Rolle’s arrest have been suspended with pay while an internal investigation continues.
Sunrise Police said BSO is conducting an investigation into the death of Damian Martin.
BSO officials confirmed the case remains an open and active investigation.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.