May 23 - May 29, 2013
BY JOHNNY HUNTER, SR....Natasha Clemmons, the mother of slain Rodney Mitchell, and others were protesting his death by the hands of the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office and demanding justice for her slain son, at the corner of US 301 and Main Street. The Sarasota Sheriff’s office and the State Attorney’s office exonerated the deputies involved in the fatal shooting of Rodney Mitchell.
In June 2012, Rodney Mitchell was stopped by the Sheriff’s Office for a seat belt violation. The officers maintain that Mitchell was attempting to escape when they fatally wounded him. Sheriff Knight hired an “independent consultant” to investigate the incident. Of course the independent consultant, (who were being paid by the Sheriff’s Office) determined that the officers behavior was justified; although, several law enforcement officers are seriously concerned with the tactical use of deadly force in a situation of this nature.
According to Florida’s statue Chapter 119, I requested all the documents pertaining to this incident from Sheriff Knight to include the consultants report. Sheriff Knight has yet to conform to this request. It appears that Sheriff Knight thinks that he’s above the law. It makes one wonder, what is he trying to hide by not producing these documents that he is required to do so by law?
Sheriff Knight’s behavior reminds me of one of Florida’s worst Governor when it comes to the attitude toward Blacks. That’s Gov. Sidney Catts, who was the state’s governor between 1917 - 1921. Catts tenure was important because he served as governor during an especially dangerous period for Blacks. Since President Obama election backlash against Blacks have been on a rise. Blacks are undervalued underestimated and marginalized. America as a whole wasn’t ready for President Obama. Sheriff Knight’s previously said he could be Sheriff as long as he wanted to be and he didn’t need North Sarasota (which is predominately Blacks and Hispanics) to be Sheriff. With that type of attitude, its very little chance that his policy will change without a court order or being voted out of office in 2016.
If Sheriff Knight were sincere about being equitable in his treatment of the citizens of Sarasota, he would invest in sensitivity training at the very least for his staff. If his budget doesn’t allow for it then he is allowed to use drug money that he seizes for that purpose.
It is most unfortunate that Natasha Clemmons didn’t have the resources to conduct her own investigation into the actions of the Sheriff’s deputies that were responsible for her son’s death.
I’m sure if she did, it would counter the report that Sheriff Knight paid for.
Let’s not let Rodney Mitchell’s death go without learning a valuable lesson. Rodney Mitchell’s death should bring about a positive change about how citizens are treated by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office.
On a final note, a white female in south Sarasota County did the same thing as Rodney Mitchell. Fortunately for her, she did not meet with the same fate. DEATH!!!
CARLTON SHELLEY GRADUATES FROM UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY - WEST POINT
Proverbs 20:24 tell us that “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” By anyone’s standards, Carlton Eugene Shelley, II has distinguished himself as a scholar and athlete. On May 25, 2013, Shelley will reach a major milestone in his life when he graduates from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Shelley’s tenure at West Point, one of the nation’s highest ranked universities, was studded with meetings with dignitaries and celebrities; he has had opportunities to work alongside people of influence and power and travel domestically and abroad. His graduation follows a renowned college career where he played linebacker on the Army Black Knights football team, joined the elite membership of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and had internships with Boston Scientific and the Congressional Black Caucus with then-congressman Allen West. Yet, while his West Point experience was full of prestige and rigor, Shelley has remained humble. His gratitude for the family and community that have supported him remains profound. “Ultimately, I plan to come back to Sarasota to invest in the people and city that helped me become the person I am today,” Shelley said.
A man of many gifts, Shelley’s resume reads like one of a man years older with internships and mentorships in his short career that would seem staggering to many. For Shelley, however, it is just part of his fabric. His conviction of the value of working hard and training for greatness is unshakable, as can be evidenced by his mantra: “Excuses are tools of incompetence which build monuments of nothingness, and those who specialize in them seldom do anything right.” He is the product of many years of hard work coupled with enviable natural talent, yet he is mindful that he has not been alone on the road to his success. The son of powerhouse Booker High School principal Dr. Rachel Shelley and Mr. Carlton Shelley, the young Shelley always had strong role models in his house. The successes in the Shelley family run long, in fact. His sister Kayla is an eighth grader at Pine View School, Sarasota’s rigorous school for the gifted. The family are members of the Shiloh Baptist Primitive Church, and religious faith has been a cornerstone in their lives that has strengthened Shelley’s decision-making skills and perseverance.
When Shelley thinks of those beyond the family who nurtured his abilities, surely his professors and coaches at West Point are listed. But his thoughts turn to the ones of his earlier days, people who many Sarasotans would recognize and place on their own list of heroes: his teachers and administrators at Fruitville and Emma E. Booker Elementary Schools, Booker Middle and Riverview High Schools, the NAACP Youth Council and the Brotherhood to Men Mentoring Program. Then there are the coaches, from his earliest days in the Newtown Little League and Ringling Redskins, to those who honed his skills with the Riverview Rams, preparing him for the West Point team and the moments most indelible in his college career. His passion for football shines when he speaks of his most memorable college moment, playing the Army vs. Navy game in his junior year in front of a stadium of nearly 110,000 screaming fans. “It was wild and crazy,” he said. “We lost the game, but I will forever hold on to the memories.”
Football figures into Shelley’s immediate post-graduation plans. After traveling Europe, he will return to West Point where he will join the team of football recruiters and coaches, hand-selected by Army head football coach Rich Ellerson. At the end of the fall season, he will set out to Fort Benning, Georgia for his basic officer training, then report to his assigned post at Fort Hood, Texas, where he will specialize in armor. The service he will embark on during his Army tenure will only be the beginning of his lifetime of service.
When his Army career ends, he hopes to come back to Sarasota and dedicate his life to local politics, as city or county commissioner and then, hopefully, as a congressman representing Sarasota. His public service will include being a mentor in the Brotherhood to Men Mentoring Program. This is, perhaps, the greatest testament to the nature of his gratitude to his hometown. Said Shelley, “I never would have made it without God, my family, and the people of Sarasota.”
As he prepares for the next chapter of his life, Shelley plans to use the aptitude he has been endowed with to give back to the community that has supported his success.