BRADENTON -- In the wake of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict, Democratic Black Caucus of Florida president Henry Crespo Sr. said that many calls came in from people of color wondering if injustices against them mattered.
"There's a host of issues that people are dealing with," said Crespo. "It got me to thinking that we need to go around this state."
He said highly publicized stories of people failed by the justice system has citizens disenchanted with the government and how it works on their behalf.
"The only way that we can effectively understand what is happening to the citizens, we have to talk to them," Crespo said.
The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard and the Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials are hosting a series of town hall assemblies to allow Florida residents to publicly address violations of individual liberties, women's rights, access to quality health care, education, voting rights, public employees, pervasive poverty and jobs. They call it the Florida Speaks Tour.
The tour kicked off in Pensacola in September and has made its way to Sarasota, where it will stop at 2826 Leonard Reid Ave. from 10 a.m. to noon today. The event will address the concerns of Manatee and Sarasota county residents.
"All meetings are being documented by video and audio," said Crespo. "We're collecting all this information. We're trying to determine if there is a pattern."
He said all information gathered will be given to state legislators, and this is a bipartisan effort. The organization will push for it to be presented to Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet so they may come up with a plan of action.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, plans to attend the Florida Speaks Tour event today. He said as an elected official, he cannot serve effectively if he does not listen to the people.
"We must always remember that we are here to serve the people," he said. "You cannot serve if you have not heard the people."
He said as an elected official, when all the issues are brought before him and his counterparts, he will see what he can do to help.
"I actually compliment the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida because it's an undertaking to listen and hear folks and act on it," Rouson said. "We want to encourage people to attend this event."
Rouson said even if you cannot attend the event, contact the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida atdemocraticblackcaucusfl.org or his office at 727-552-3200 for more information on how you can be heard.
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.