Orlando gives the black community the shaft...again

Orlando City Hall does not care what the black community wants.

City officials proved that point recently when they announced that they will not change the time or location of the Citizens Police Review Board.

That panel of appointees is charged with reviewing the results of internal investigations into police brutality. It meets 8:30 a.m. on first Wednesday of the month at Orlando City Hall.

Though the meeting is open to the public, very few people attend because the time and location make it difficult for working people to speak to the board.

For more than a year a variety of people have asked for the meeting time and location be changed. The goal was to make it easier for working people and people of color – those most likely to have had negative encounters with police -- to attend the meeting and address board members.

Recently city officials rejected the request.

In a written statement, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s spokeswoman explained the city’s position this way:

“As you know, the board directed staff in December 2017 to explore potential changes to the time and location of the monthly board meeting.

“For several months, staff has been exploring this further with several City Departments engaged and working on this effort, including members from the Facilities, the Clerk’s Office, Legal and OPD.

“Through this process several alternative locations were explored and several factors for these locations were researched extensively, including safety and security measures, capacity and size capabilities, accessibility for everyone, equipment and specific needs for meeting set up.

“When considering all this information, staff has determined City Hall to be the most appropriate location to hold this board meeting.

“Regarding the potential to change the time of the meeting, staff advised that there is a possibility to change it to a different hour within the normal hours of business at City Hall, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As a note, the time of the meeting was previously changed within the last year to 8:30 a.m. to accommodate this request.”

As if changing the meeting time from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. makes it easier for people to attend.

The spokeswoman refused to disclose which staff members made this decision, but the explanation does not make sense.

The city has 19 neighborhood centers, all of which are accessible to those with disabilities; can easily accommodate several hundred people, and most are equipped with extensive audio-visual equipment for presentations and to record the proceedings.

It’s noteworthy that before Dyer became mayor, previous administrations held City Council meetings in the evening at a community center four times a year.

While Florida law requires the city council and other bodies to conduct their sessions in the public, Orlando and Orange County make it difficult for the public to attend. They hold their meetings in the daytime when most people are at work.

By contrast, most of the other cities in Orange County, such as Ocoee and Edgewood hold their meetings in the evening when people can attend.

The next Orlando police review board meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 8:30 a.m. on Orlando City Hall.

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