2020 has definitely been the worst that most of us have seen; with living through a pandemic, global warming reaching an all-time high and natural disasters ravaging multiple countries. One particular series of events that have significantly heightened during this year is the constant brutalization of Black people, and the systemic racism that they face on a day to day basis.
Racism has always existed within societies and across borders. People of color in the United States in particular have faced oppressive circumstances from the get-go. 2020 presented an opportunity for people to voice their disdain with the fundamentally flawed system after George Floyd was choked to death by Derek Chauvin. Chauvin is currently asking for charges to be dismissed after claiming that Floyd died “due to drugs.” On top of this, EMT Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her own bed by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrov. There are plenty of other deaths under the hands of police officers in the United States, but both Floyd’s death and Taylor’s death definitely catalyzed the series of protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. People of all races took to the street to express opposition with the systemic racism that targets Black people in the United States and purposefully disenfranchises and tears them down.
Even in our own back yard of Tallahassee, there have been a large number of protests and vigils in honor of those who lost their lives to police brutality and systemic racism. On Saturday, Aug. 29, the Tallahassee Community Action Committee organized a march in support of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Wisconsin last week. The march was relatively successful up until a counter-protestor pulled a gun against protestors following involvement in a fistfight that took place. While the Tallahassee Police Department didn’t explain the reason for the physical altercation, eyewitness protestors stated that they saw the man walk up to the group of protestors at the intersection of Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway. They recounted that he began arguing with them and taking photos of their license plates.
Videos posted to social media platforms show the fistfight happening and moments later the gun being drawn, leading to fully-fledged, scattered panic. Later in the video, it shows the gunman pointing his gun directly at a protestor, who later identified himself as Adam Ferguson. In a tweet from his personal account, @skidpapi, Ferguson writes, “Here’s a video of #TrumpViolence in Tallahassee as a psycho enters our protest and hits my GIRLFRIEND - he gets the hands put to him and pulls a gun like he didn’t expect it. Arm yourselves. Tallahassee too strong for that. #BlackLivesMatter.” Ferguson explained in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat that the man instigated the fight by shoving a female protestor. When the counter-protestor was shoved back by another protestor, he took to punching back, and that punch landed on Ferguson’s girlfriend. This caused many protestors to punch the counter-protestor, who eventually drew his gun, leading Ferguson to instantly drop down to the street and hold his hands above his head.
After remaining silent for over 16 hours on the incident, TPD said via press release on Sunday afternoon that after working with the State Attorney’s office, they gathered that "the evidence confirmed the physical altercation between numerous protesters and that the individual was knocked to the ground and under attack before lawfully defending himself," and that the “TPD confirmed that the individual with the gun was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon as a license holder."
Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge signed an order declaring a local state of emergency that includes a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Wednesday and lasting for a week. The proclamation cites Tallahassee protests that have turned violent, specifically the Saturday confrontation where the counter-protestor pulled a gun on peaceful protesters.