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Saturday December 16th 2017

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The Buzz 8/31/17

Protest Saturday Thankfully Pensacola didn’t become the next Charlottesville this past Saturday. The pro monument protest and simultaneous counter protest were pretty tame on both sides. The demonstrations drew a crowd of approximately 300 people.

Initially, the media was told only one arrest was made at the protest. According to the Pensacola Police Department “24-year-old Caleb Burris was charged with battery after he knocked a megaphone out of another person’s hand.”  Burris gave law enforcement Denton, Texas as his address.

Police on Monday said that a second man had been arrested for suspicion of battery—Alonzo Hick, 79, of Pensacola.

Another, more low-key protest also took place just down the street from Lee Circle later Saturday morning.

Local members of the League of Women Voters celebrated Women’s Equality Day with a silent demonstration on the corner of Palafox and Garden Streets. In addition to signs, the women made a strong visual impact by dressing up in red capes and bonnets. The costumes, of course, are a nod to the popular dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood and recent Hulu hit “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Latest on New Arena Pensacola hotelier and developer Jay Patel is seeking private and public investors to build a new sports complex.

Patel said the concept, which he has presented to Escambia County board members, has existed for awhile and is not tied to luring the New Orleans Pelicans developmental league team to Pensacola.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward gave a pitch to the NBA selection team to host the club. Shreveport and Pensacola are reportedly the only two cities in the running.

When contacted by the Inweekly, Patel said he could not reveal details yet about the plan, such as what it looks like, where it would be located, the economic benefits, the types of jobs it would create, the funding, etc. He asked the Inweekly to wait a few weeks, and the plan would be revealed to everyone at an Escambia County board meeting.

“Commissioners were optimistic,” Patel said. “They liked what they saw. But I have to make sure everybody is on board. There are so many people. This is a big project.”

Patel said he isn’t seeking a handout from the county to pay for the sports complex.

“There is a lot of outside private funding. It is not about the county being on the hook,” Patel said.

He congratulated the city of Shreveport for its plan to build a $125 million arena specifically to accommodate the Pelicans. Many top corporations and community leaders have signed off on the project, and the city has the land and plans to begin building it.

“If Shreveport wants to go out and build something just for the Pelicans, I respect them for that,” Patel said. “I wish them well. Our project is not dependent on the Pelicans. We’ve worked on this thing for the last 18 months. It really has nothing to do with them.”

Patel, though, said the proposed Pensacola sports complex could handle the Pelicans D-League team if the professional basketball executives decided to play here in the future.

“(Shreveport) is luring them,” Patel said. “We are not. If we move forward successfully and the county blesses this project, of course, we would love to have them.”

Focus on SCI Tower Quint and Rishy Studer closed last week on the SunTrust Tower at 220 Garden St. The building, which was built in 1974, will become the home of Studer Community Institute.

Studer told Inweekly, “We’ve got the Greenhut Construction and Bear Construction as the contractors. We’ve got Caldwell and Associates as architects, and then we’ve hired Ed Carson as our owner’s rep. We’re ready to go.”

He said that more parking might be needed, which would be added on the site of the former bank’s drive-thru area.

“We want to add additional parking there because probably in the next month or two, if things work out right, they’ll be an announcement of an additional building that will go on the empty parking lot where Bank of America is, which will be very exciting,” he said.

On Sept. 19, the Studer Community Institute will host a series of focus groups on the renovations and new design.

“We’re going to bring people through the four areas that we’re looking to develop as a place for people to come that have ideas, looking for solutions, looking for building their businesses, and so on,” said Studer.

“That’s going to be the first and third floor of the triangle, the lobby, the plaza. People are going to rotate through four different areas over a two-hour period. We have moderators at each one. Giving us sort of ideas on what furniture they think works there, what technology works there, what lighting works there.”

To participate in the focus groups, email Studer at quint@quintstuder.com.

Quote of the Week Bishop Bill Wack’s brother Neil is also a Catholic priest. At his ordination, Bishop Wack joked that when he received the phone call to become the bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, he asked the caller, “Are you sure you have the right Father Wack?”

‘America is Better Than This’ On Aug. 16, The National Movement for Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to President Donald Trump demanding that “he give rise to moral leadership and issue a clear, unequivocal position on civil rights and his personal opposition to white supremacist organization.”

The organization comprised of clergy and civil rights veterans fear the President’s comments about Charlottesville have emboldened the white supremacists.

“When we see leaders of white supremacist organizations and the white nationalist movement publicly thanking the President for his misguided statements concerning the murder of peach activist Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va. we cannot remain silent,” said Dexter Wimbish, General Counsel.

“The President’s words cast a dark shadow upon this great land and remind us that we must remain forever vigilant against the scourge of racism and hatred,” he added. “America is better than this.”

The National Movement for Civil and Human Rights recommended that President Trump submit a formal statement denouncing the support of white supremacists to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, terminate all White House staff with ties to the Alt-Right movement, and fully fund the $9.183 million budget request of the Commission on Civil Rights.

In April 2004, then-President Ronald Reagan sent a letter to Morris Abram, chairman of the commission regarding the Ku Klux Klan.

Reagan wrote, “Democrats and Republicans alike must be resolute in disassociating ourselves from any group or individual whose political philosophy consists only of racial or religious intolerance, whose arguments are supported only by intimidation or threats of violence.”

Which Side? Loyal reader W.L. Stafford of Pensacola responded to our cover story on the Confederate monument in Lee Square (“Which Side Are You On?”) with this letter:

“To answer the question asked, I am on the right side.

“The side that promotes and tells the truth, follows the rule of law, abstains from violence, uses the past as a guide for the future, realizes our American History is beautiful and ugly in the same breath and above all to allow a forum without blame. Paid provocateurs are as whores, willing to do whatever if the price is right.

“My ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War, The War of Northern Aggression/American Civil War most were from North Carolina and this area of Northwest Florida. My ancestors did not own the first slave/black man, woman or child. My people were slaves to the land and area they lived in just to survive as farmers, loggers, hunters, trappers and making a little whiskey.

“I owe no man nor group an apology. Just as no one can pick their parents nor their ancestors…it is what it is! The past is just that, the present is from God and the future is unknown but will become the present, and hopefully the past will offer direction to be right.

“A statue or memorial erected 100 years plus ago should be no more offensive than one erected within the last 50 years for individuals seeking civil and legal equality.

“Revisionists of history seek to rewrite events to fit their agenda. Once again, the provocateurs/agitators/protestors are willing to do whatever to satisfy those paying for their services. This applies to both sides of the issue, not just the liberal left.

“A term ‘yellow journalism’ has fallen out of use, yet William Randolph Hearst created inaccurate/false information so widely published the United States declared war on Spain for the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba’s harbor. Only later it was discovered to be an internal explosion of coal dust with the coal bins located next to the ship’s gun cotton magazine storage areas. The ship’s steel plates were blown outward, not inward from a suspected mine as reported by the Hearst papers and wire services.

“To all, tell, broadcast or print the truth. History and human nature will eventually disclose the truth; time is relentless. Truth and honesty are as pregnancy…you either are, or you’re not. I’m on the right side of truth, being honest and forthright.” –W.L. Stafford

Cover Story Kudos Rory Fleming of the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School sent an email praising our Aug. 17 article, “Straight Outta Options.”

“Thanks for your excellent work at Inweekly, including your new piece about Escambia County jail costs,” wrote Fleming.

Peter Miller compliments C.S. Satterwhite for his 8/24 in-depth article on the Confederate Monument in Lee square, “Which Side Are You On?”

“I saw your article regarding the Lee Monument and thought, what a well-written bit of journalism. Your piece is really well done and reflects a lot of research and investigation,” he wrote. “I have no idea where the monument debate will go, but at least there is now some history and background to help people better understand the argument.”

Meet to Meet on Monument Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer has responded to Mayor Ashton Hayward’s recommendation to hold a workshop for public input on the possible removal of the Confederate Monument in Lee Square.

In a press release issued late Thursday afternoon, Spencer said he was placing a discussion item on the agenda for the Sept. 14 city council meeting to review the city policy that governs the monument on city property.

In the accompanying attachments, the council president further clarified the discussion would be “to determine public input and select a date(s) for one or more Special Council Meetings allowing for public input regarding any proposal.”

“This discussion item is not intended for the discussion of the merits of any proposal, rather to determine Council’s desire for a Special Council Meeting(s) allowing for public input and selection of date(s) for this meeting(s),” added Spencer. “At any Special Council Meeting scheduled, the merits of any proposals will be discussed.”

Spencer’s announcement came one week after Mayor Hayward and Councilman Larry Johnson declared they would like to have the monument removed. Johnson suggested the 50 ft. memorial to dead Confederate soldiers be placed in a museum.

“I do not believe that the monument belongs in a public park overlooking our downtown,” said Johnson. “I absolutely support the mayor in his plans to remove the monument and hope that it can be moved to a museum or other appropriate location where it can be placed in the proper context.”

Addition by Addition Congressman Matt Gaetz discussed the debate of Confederate monuments with Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen on “Pensacola Speaks.”

“We can’t take bleach to American history. I mean, where does it stop?” he said. “We have had Democrats calling recently for us to stop maintaining the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument because these folks were slave owners.”

He pointed out that America has a very complex history from the Native Americans all the way to present day.

“Rather than trying to bleach and whitewash that history, we should try to learn from it,” said Gaetz. “Let’s try to understand the fact that these were dynamic conflicts that put families against other families and inspired different things in different people.”

For him, “our progress forward and how we deal with racial strife and ethnic strife” should guide the measure of the nation’s progress. He believes that we undermine the argument that the U.S. is the beacon of hope for the rest of the world when violence is seen as an acceptable political tool.

But what we’ve got to see is that we are a model to the rest of the world and that as a country we’re trying to be a beacon of hope for inclusive values., according to Gaetz.

“We can’t go through and pretend history didn’t happen,” he said. “That’s what makes us more likely to repeat it.”

When asked about the pre-Civil Rights era effort to eliminate black faces and voices from Southern history, Gaetz said, “Whenever we can put history in a richer context I think we learn a lot more from that. As a society, can we do more to sort of lift up some of the voices and stories that might not have gotten told or that still need to be discovered? Absolutely.”

He added, “But I think that you have addition by addition, not by subtraction. Bringing our complex history as a country into that a rich, full context is to everyone’s benefit.”

Mark Your Calendars On Sept. 1-3, The Escambia County School District Maintenance Department will host its Fifth Annual BackpackProjectUSA Family Fishing Rodeo at Grand Lagoon Yacht Club, 10653 Gulf Beach Highway. BackpackProjectUSA provides food to Escambia County elementary students who have been identified to be at risk of hunger over the weekends. For more information, visit backpackprojectusa.com.

On Sept. 7, Escambia Board of County Commissioners is meeting in Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 Palafox. Public forum begins at 4:30 p.m., regular meeting 5:30 p.m.

One More Item The News Service of Florida reports that former Libertarian Party candidate Augustus Sol Invictus has switched to the Republican Party and will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Invictus, whose assumed name purportedly means “Unconquerable Sun God,” has classified himself in the past as an “American fascist” and wrote a paper in law school supporting eugenics.

In 2006, he lost the Libertarian nomination for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat in a rare primary against Adrian Wyllie, receiving 26.5 percent of the primary vote. While running, Invictus made headlines for reportedly engaging in a ritual sacrifice in which he killed a goat and drank its blood.