Opinion

Fla. sheriff’s letter to NAACP sparks ugly public feud

Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott
Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott
Photo Credit: WFTX-TV

A Florida sheriff is predictably being called a racist after accusing the local NAACP branch of having a double standard by “picking and choosing which issues it rallies around,” and cited Trayvon Martin’s death as an example.

For the first time in five years, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott will not attend or donate to the group’s annual fundraiser and he sent a scathing letter to local branch president James Muwakkil explaining why.

“I simply find myself unable to support your professional agenda, which I believe actually contradicts the end goal of eliminating double standards,” Scott wrote.

Citing the NAACP’s attention and reaction to the Martin-Zimmerman case that took place in another Fla. county, the sheriff wrote that perhaps the group should pay attention to the “epidemic” of “young, black males” being shot to death by “young, black males” in the Fort Myers area.

“To date, I am unaware of any appreciable attention or public outcry the NAACP locally or nationally have afforded these issues in our own, proverbial backyard,” Scott said, adding, “The noticeable lack of involvement and attention given those tragedies by the NAACP begs the question why in my mind.”

Scott’s second criticism was how the group demanded, shortly after Zimmerman’s acquittal, a portrait of the county’s namesake General Robert E. Lee be removed from the city’s council chambers.

James Muwakkil
Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil
Photo Credit: WFTX-TV

“You don’t want to put a symbol that represents some and oppresses others,” Muwakkil said of the Lee painting in an interview with WFTX-TV.

But Scott suggested the timing of such a demand was nothing more than “race baiting.”

“While I am not black, I continue to be amazed by what is deemed ‘racially offensive and/or insensitive’ and what is not,” Scott wrote.

Scott asked Muwakkil in the letter how the “rampant use” of the n-word, (which he spelled out twice in full), in the hip-hop culture and among “top, black comedians” “apparently stirs little to no emotions among blacks but the portrait of General Lee does?”

Scott’s letter sparked a war of words with Muwakkil for the past week, according to multiple local news sources.

“He didn’t need to use the entire word,” Muwakkil said to the Marco Island Sun Times. “It was ugly and it was offensive and it was unmanly and it was un-sheriff-like.”

“This is Sheriff Scott being a racist, hiding behind his badge…voters should be looking to vote him out of office for misuse of his office, his arrogance,” WBBH News reported Muwakkil said.

However, Scott said the majority of responses he’s received have been supportive of him, and both men are hoping to put this behind them and agree to disagree, WFTX-TV report said.

Read Sheriff Scott’s letter here.

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