The purpose of this Pensacola blog is to provide a megaphone for street level voices in Pensacola and the surrounding Escambia County that have been ignored or silenced by the Escambia County Sheriffs Office (ECSO) for many years through deliberate neglect. As I have traveled around Pensacola several themes have emerged from conversations with leading community activists and ordinary people in Pensacola, especially in the Black community. One, the Escambia County Sheriffs Office, especially the two-term incumbent Sheriff David Morgan seeking re-election, is disconnected from the Black community. Two, they feel he has no real, genuine interest in hearing their complaints or addressing the community's needs. He either refuses to meet with community activists or mothers who have lost their precious sons to violence, or, when he does meet with them his discourse with them makes them feel "belittled." Three, there is an almost total breakdown in community trust between the ECSO and the Black community. Black witnesses to crimes do not have enough confidence and trust in the ECSO detectives to provide information. I suspect that other communities that I will be exploring in greater depth, such as the homeless community, the LGBTQ community, and the migrant farm worker community may very well feel the same way.
This is not to say that every deputy sheriff and detective in the Escambia County Sheriffs Office is unprofessional, lacks empathy, and by words and deeds is perceived to be hostile or uncaring towards the taxpayers of Pensacola and Escambia County. Some deputies and detectives do receive high praise from members of the community. But, these overall perceptions are widespread in the Black community and their righteous anger at being abused and neglected is directed foremost at Sheriff David Morgan. As the head law enforcement officer in the county, he is an elected official and he should be the one closest to the people. Members of the Black community look to him to set the standards of professionalism and decorum among his deputy sheriffs and detectives. They look to him personally to build real bridges of trust and confidence. Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, expect that their local sheriff will take his oath of office seriously and protect constitutional and civil rights. That as their elected law enforcement representative he will not only spend their tax dollars wisely, but having paid their tax dollars, they expect to receive to services they paid for.
This blog is made possible with the silent assistance of activists and ordinary people who open their hearts and lend us their voices, and my closest collaborators who choose to remain anonymous for their own protection against reprisals. This blog is not about me. It is about the community; the community that is justifiably angry; it is about the community that is coming together every day to build solidarity for social change and social justice. You can ignore me. But you ignore these community voices at your own peril. Many have told me that Pensacola is another Ferguson waiting to happen.
Contact me if you have a story, a street report, I should hear and follow-up on. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a Facebook message.