LAUDERHILL, Fla. – When it comes to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, a conflict brewed during the city of Lauderhill’s commission meeting. While the rest of the city commission was ready to vote for a resolution supporting protesters who are demanding change, the city’s vice mayor did not agree and would not cast a “yes” vote.
The city commission meeting was a window into a conversation happening in communities across South Florida.
The discussion was requested regarding the Black Lives Matter movement from Lauderhill Commissioner Richard Campbell.
“When I see the extent of how diverse the support is, is it makes me have hope,” Campbell said.
During the discussion, Vice Mayor Howard Berger, a Caucasian commissioner in a city where the majority of residents are black, first tried to amend the resolution’s language before eventually casting a lone vote of "no."
[RELATED: Watch Commission Meeting In Its Entirety]
“There are a lot of reports that say it is the behavior of the victim and circumstance that dictate the actions of police, not race,” Berger said during the virtual meeting.
"Some of his remarks were extremely painful," Campbell said.
Listening in to the meeting was State Representative Shevrin Jones (D-District 101).
"Representatives that represent our communities of color, we have to make sure we are standing up for what is in this resolution."
In a telephone call with Local 10, Berger referenced the Black Lives Matter organization.
"I believe in social justice. I am opposed to bigotry and I am opposed to police brutality, but the resolution embraced a group that has a political agenda," Berger said.
"I don't support defunding police, I don't support abolishing prisons," he said.
But those items were not referenced in the resolution.
Jones pointed out that “no one has asked him to join the organization.” Campbell said: “It is clear that he is on the wrong side of history.”
The friction at this meeting was happening as the nation continues to grapple with putting into practice America’s promise of equality.
Last night while joining a virtual mtg for a Broward City to speak on a resolution acknowledging that #BLM & to speak against police brutality, I was baffled by the comments of their Vice Mayor & him condemning the movement. I hung up in anger and realized “THIS is why we march.”— Shevrin Jones (@ShevrinJones) June 9, 2020
"Everyone needs to be comfortable with having the uncomfortable conversation," Jones said.
Campbell said: “I understand many white folks are a bit hesitant and some way in denial. However our leaders should take a different stand.” Campbell believes the time is right for change now: “Many of these things we could not do in the 1960s. The timing is right.”
Berger told Local 10: “I don’t think this has to do with black or white. I think that supporting social justice and opposing police brutality transcends racial lines, so I don’t think it has anything to do with black and white. If I was black and I felt the way I did, I would still vote the way I did. We need to encourage peaceful protest. Let’s come together and seek solutions and not so be so angry that you refuse to do that.”
In a statement, Lauderhill Commissioner Denise D. Grant said: “As a Commissioner of a diverse community, which includes 78% minorities, I believe supporting Resolution #20R-06-99, allows us to stand against police brutality and racial disparity.”
On Thursday, June 25 at 6 p.m., Grant invited anyone interested to join the “Heal Our Nation Prayer Vigil" on the city’s Facebook page.