One would think that hundreds of teens trashing the Florida State Fair last week would garner some national attention.
Evidently, the local police, whose 200 deputies at the fair could not control the chaos, only relented in providing details after news outlets picked up the story of a teen who was killed crossing an interstate three hours after deputies ejected him from the fairgrounds.
Jennifer Vander Velde of the Tampa Bay Times reported that although there has been “wilding” in the past, this year was the worst. She wrote that the teens were “fighting each other, robbing other patrons, stealing food and battering deputies.”
Before next year’s fair, Vander Velde wrote,
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“…the agency plans to coordinate with community groups, including Tampa’s Pastors on Patrol, the NAACP and the Sheriff’s Black Advisory Council to get the word out that such behavior is unacceptable — like Tampa does before the Gasparilla parade.”
“Authorities said the lawlessness is mostly confined to the first Friday [of the fair]. But they’ve never publicly shared details until Monday — after several media outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times, reported that 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III was kicked out of the fair Friday by deputies before he died while crossing Interstate 4 that night.”
Major Tom Feeneyof the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, “commander with 30 years of experience,” said “it’s the worst thing he has seen in law enforcement.” Major Feeney “asked the Florida State Fair Authority to shut down the fair around 9 p.m.”
Col. Jim Previtera said that the teens “were stealing candy apples and throwing them at deputies.” and one “tried to launch a hand truck at a deputy, and another robbed a woman in a wheelchair of her purse.”
TBO reported that Previtera said,
“We actually had deputies who witnessed crimes but couldn’t take any action because they couldn’t get to them.”
Twelve arrests were made and almost 100 teens were kicked out of the fair.
“Deputies probably would have arrested more people, Previtera said, but they often had to disengage for their own safety.”
Vander Velde listed the arrests “for the first Fridays at the Florida State Fair” in previous years:
2014: 99 ejections, 12 arrests
2013: 56 ejections, two arrests
2012: 48 ejections, eight arrests
2011: 93 ejections, nine arrests
On Wednesday, some videos taken by terrorized vendors were released by police to the Tampa Bay Times.
The local Fox affiliate reported that Sheriff David Gee sent letters to black leaders, including one sent to James Cole, president of the Sheriff’s Black Advisory Council, which read,
“I’m not ready to say whether it’s fair or not when the sheriff points out the specific demographic of African Americans,” Cole said. “I think from the video, they try to make a call that this looked like the concentration of who we’re working with. Our job is to make sure that when a group has been identified that there’s still equity across the board as far as getting resources to them, making sure that we’re doing what we can on the front end to prevent this from happening, and they’re not just being identified for the purpose of saying, ‘they’re a problem.'”
Watch a local news report here: