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Sunshine State ain’t all sun and fun, especially if you’re Black

Florida

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 7/27/2018, 11:37 a.m.
Last week, OW reported about a Black businessman who is a millionaire and...

Last week, OW reported about a Black businessman who is a millionaire and how someone wrote a note calling him the n-word and left it inside his high-end hotel room while he was on vacation. This week there were more incidents in the so-called Sunshine State of Florida that indicate it may not be the best place to vacation for people of color, and even not to live there. One incident involved a senior Black woman being treated very poorly while trying to cash a check at a Wells Fargo. In another incident, according to the Associated Press, a Black man was fatally shot in a Florida parking lot, and the incident is being considered a hate crime. An attorney for the family of the unarmed black man fatally shot by a white man said Thursday that race is the reason no charges have been filed after the videotaped altercation. Attorney Benjamin Crump, who gained national prominence representing the family of Trayvon Martin after the Black teen's fatal shooting by a Hispanic man in 2012, said Michael Drejka committed “cold-blooded murder” in the death of Markeis McGlockton outside of a Clearwater convenience store on July 19. Drejka, 47, confronted McGlockton's girlfriend as she sat in the couple's car with two of their children, ages 3 years and 4 months, because she was parked in a handicapped-accessible space. McGlockton, 28, had gone into the store with their 5-year-old son. Britany Jacobs said Drejka was cursing at her. Video shows McGlockton exited the store and shoved Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulled a handgun and shot McGlockton as he backed away. “We all know race is a factor in this case,” Crump said at a news conference outside the Clearwater courthouse. Crump said that if McGlockton was white and Drejka was Black, “does anyone doubt that he (Drejka) would have been arrested and taken to jail, if he would have not been shot right there in the parking lot?” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said last week that under Florida's “stand your ground” law, Drejka was defending himself and Gualtieri doesn't believe he could be charged. He turned the case over to the state attorney's office for a final decision. That office declined to comment Thursday.

In the other racially charged incident, 78-year-old Barbara Carroll was accused of forgery by at least two white employees at a Wells Fargo bank in South Florida when she tried to cash a $140 check. The police were even called, and it took more than two hours before she finally received her cash. According to the New York Post, even after the bank contacted the issuer of the check, and it was confirmed it was valid, the bank employees harassed her. Remember, this is a 78-year-old woman. “I felt belittled,” Carroll said, noting how the teller, who was white, asked for two forms of ID and then told her there was a problem. “Things that we — and we being Black people — things that we feel are sometimes brushed over, like, ‘Oh, she was just doing her job.’ It’s a difference,” Carroll explained. “You can sense the difference.” The Ph.D.-holder has decided to sue — filing a complaint last week instead accusing the bank of racial discrimination. She told the Miami New Times that she felt compelled to come forward after seeing all the stories about Black people being racially profiled in recent months while doing everyday things like barbecuing in a park and swimming in a pool. “Ultimately, we’re hopeful that this isn’t just about Wells Fargo, that other corporations take notice and realize that there has to be some kind of change in our culture,” said Carroll’s lawyer, Yechezkel Rodal. “That these things are not OK.”