City Commissioner Williams-Cox defends mural, says suspended officer doesn’t represent a majority
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
With a TPD officer who called protesters a “gang of loudmouths” now on suspension, City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said he is part of a minority that has reacted negatively to a Black Lives Matter Tallahassee mural.
The officer’s objection to the mural that is painted on Gaines Street where it intersects with Rail Road came a few days after the painting was completed. Williams-Cox has been one of the driving forces behind getting the mural painted.
She said it came out of a suggestion from Katrina Tuggerson, president of the Capital City Chamber of Commerce, and Elizabeth Emanuel, executive director of Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority.
Similar mural paintings have been done in prominent locations in New York and Washington, D.C. They stem from the national protests over the killing of George Floyd by a former Minnesota police officer.
“It’s how we are embracing diversity as a city,” Williams-Cox said of her push to get the mural. “That was the intent of that because we are having these hard conversations already about race. In this climate, we want to make sure we are on the right side of history on this.”
TPD chief Lawrence Revell responded immediately after the “questionable social media post by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department.” In a prepared statement, Revell didn’t name the officer involved.
However, he has since been identified as Sgt. Gavin Larremore. He’ll remain on suspension until an internal investigation is completed, Revell said.
“As police officers, we must always be cognizant that our behavior is a reflection of our peers and agency,” Revell’s said in the statement. “My expectations for our conduct have been and will continue to be clearly communicated internally. Any shortcomings will be reviewed, and violations will not be tolerated.”
In his post, Larremore called the Black Lives Matter protesters a “gang of loudmouths that damaged businesses downtown, unlawfully restricted the free movement of the city’s law abiding citizens, attacking civilians and officers (including me personally).”
Responding to a suggestion that the mural incited the post, Williams-Cox said it’s deeper than that.
“If paint on the ground is going to incite you that means it was already in your heart,” she said. “What we are seeing now are people’s true colors are actually coming out.”
The racially-charged post is the second by a city employee entrusted with public safety. A Tallahassee firefighter was recently reprimanded for similar posts.
In his post, Larremore incorrectly stated that $25.000 of tax payers’ money was used to complete the mural. The actually cost was just over $8,000, most of it going to stencils and paint.