An entire South Florida SWAT team resigned over criticism from 22-year-old vice mayor who was elected while a student
HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA - JUNE 3: Protesters take part in a caravan to protest against police brutality and the recent death of George Floyd on June 3, 2020 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Protests continue against cities across the country against the death of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
The SWAT team at Hallandale Beach jointly canceled their assignment this week and complained about the criticism from 22-year-old Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana.
The SWAT team made headlines in 2014 after searching 34-year-old Howard Bowe's house and killing him and his dog. In 2018, the city agreed to pay Bowe's family a $ 425,000 severance payment.
"I think I have the gall to stand up to their intimidation tactics because justice to victims like Howard Bowe is more important than worrying about letters like that," Javellana told Business Insider.
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Hallandale Beach is a small community in South Florida that has had no SWAT team since this week.
In a memo released on Friday, June 9, members of the SWAT team at the Hallandale Beach Police Department announced their collective resignation, referring to local politicians' criticism of law enforcement.
"The city administration has shown a clear contempt for our agency," wrote the officials in a memo, which the local television station CBS12 reported for the first time and highlighted the vice-mayor Sabrina Javellana.
"She actively protested us," they complained. "She has shown that she enjoys soiling the hard work and dedication of members of this professional agency and having the gall to compare us to the Minneapolis Police Department."
In particular, the officials, who are resigning from their job rather than their work, complain that members of the police commando have "taken a knee" out of solidarity with Vice Mayor Javellana ... and a handful of political activists who have called for the SWAT team .
Javellana, who was already elected as a student at Florida International University, has no intention of withdrawing from her criticism of the local police.
"Who would have thought that a 22-year-old student could make adult people go mad if he only said what I think about things?" she told Business Insider. "I have found and believe that it is easy for us to condemn what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, but to recognize that we have our own victims of police brutality on the ground is more difficult and uncomfortable but necessary. "
As The New Times Broward-Palm Beach noted, the Hallandale Beach SWAT team has "a notorious record of raids on homes in Hallandale Beach for small amounts of drugs". Often, however, "it doesn't find any drugs at all."
In 2014, Hallandale Beach's SWAT team killed 34-year-old Howard Bowe while standing unarmed in his kitchen. Officials who executed a search warrant before dawn as part of a drug investigation also killed his dog.
In 2018, the city approved an agreement with Bowe's family for $ 425,000. No officers involved in the raid were ever convicted of a crime, although eyewitnesses claim they did not report before entering Bowe's home.
Javellana, who has brought the case to the attention of both an activist and an elected official, said she doesn't mind insulting people like her local SWAT team.
"I think I have the gall to stand up to their intimidation tactics because justice for victims like Howard Bowe is far more important than worrying about letters like that," she said.
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