On last Thursday, when school was let out of J.P. Taravella High School, Black families were forced to learn a painful lesson that what makes white families feel safe in Coral Springs can actually be a grave danger for Black children. After school was let out, as they often do, hundreds of kids began walking home and purchasing snacks and treats along the way. The nearby McDonald’s, as it is in cities across the country, is a popular afterschool hangout and snack spot. And as kids gathered in the parking lot, the crowd got bigger and bigger, some said it was because a fight was going to break out, but whatever the case, as the crowd of Black students got bigger, somebody did what they always do – they called the police.
Multiple cop cars pulled up, and if you’ve seen the videos, the officers are dressed in what looks like tactical military gear – and they were high strung from the beginning. Instead of simply asking the kids to disperse, police started laying their hands on kids, jerking them, and throwing them around. And when they did so to one young student, 15 year old Lucca Rolle noticed that the kid’s cell phone fell on the ground.
This was an innocent moment. The phone was on the pavement and Lucca literally just bent down to be helpful and pick it up, but in that moment, instead of seeing a helpful boy, Officer Greg LeCerra of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office saw a threat. I’ve watched the video 100 times. I see a boy. Unarmed, non-violent. Baby faced. He’s tiny. He’s in a small red tank top. I have kids his age. They walk home from school. They go to McDonalds. They are helpful. But the sheriff, at close range, decided to spray commercial grade pepper spray right in Lucca’s face.
And guess what Lucca did? He did what anybody and everybody sprayed with pepper spray does, he started to rubs his eyes like crazy, struck with so much pain. Again, he did nothing wrong. He didn’t disobey any orders. But soon the officers slammed him on the ground and Sheriff Christopher Krickovich mounted Lucca’s back, deliberately and forcefully smashed his head onto the ground, then began pummeling Lucca’s face with both fists.
By the time they were finished with him, Lucca was spitting blood everywhere and his entire face was covered in blood from the wounds police caused.
Today I was able to review several of the written reports from the officers and it’s clear that each officer has already been trained on exactly what to say to justify their brutality. They each said that they were outnumbered by students 200 to 1, but listen, that’s the case everywhere cops are. That’s the ratio of cops per person in every city. In their reports they say that the felt threatened by Lucca.
And I have to pause there for a moment, because what we see is that police officers treat Black children like they are monsters and treat white monsters, no matter their age, like they are children. In fact, just 6 miles away from this McDonalds is Parkland, Florida – where 17 students and staff were murdered in a mass shooting and 17 more were injured. And this same Sheriff’s Department arrested a heavily armed mass murderer without so much as inflicting a single scratch. Ask yourself why that is? I think you know the answer.
Ask yourself why Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered 9 beautiful souls at a church in Charleston was peacefully arrested without incident and given some Burger King afterwards. Ask yourself why we see mass shooter after mass shooter, many whom are heavily armed and just brutally murdered scores of people, ask yourself why they got a level of dignified treatment that Lucca didn’t receive.
And I have to conclude that their words are true – they see Lucca as a threat – and treated him with brute force as a result, but just don’t see fully armed white murderers as the same threat, and so they treat them with a level of peace and professionalism that was completely missing with Lucca.
And here’s what we know – the District Attorney there – Michael J. Satz – just dropped all of the bogus charges against Lucca. And that’s important for two reasons – it means Lucca won’t have a record – and he doesn’t deserve one – but it also means something else very important – if Lucca committed no crime, if he didn’t resist arrest, if he didn’t obstruct justice, if he didn’t assault an officer – which were the crimes he was charged with – if he didn’t commit those crimes – that then removes some of the legal justification the police hoped to use to justify their brutal assault of Lucca.
Which brings me to our ACTION STEPS for today.
First and foremost, I posted 5 action steps on my Instagram page, please go there and take all of those steps. There I have the phone numbers and email addresses of many of the people you need to contact. Do those things. They help. I’ve seen them help many times. It let’s the people in power there know that you are watching and that you care. Please try to do all of them between 9am – 4pm EST so that they have the most impact.
But let me give us all one big new action item. I need us to contact the Governor of Florida, Ron Desantis. Listen – put away your views of him. Put away your thoughts that this won’t matter. Politicians are political. And he just fired the previous sheriff of Broward County so he’s watching this closely. They hate to be contacted and flooded with email and phone calls and tweets from people about a topic that makes them look bad – so here’s what we’re going to do.
Call the Governor’s Office and let them know how much you believe the Broward County Officers who brutalized 15 year old Lucca Rolle need to be fired and charged with assault. Ask to speak to a real person to file a report or leave a message. Be respectful but be persistent.
Here’s one number. Save it in your phone. Ask to speak to someone and leave a message or file a report.