Robert Washington was coming back home from a corner store he frequented in Sulphur Springs. As usual, the Tampa Police Department were staking out the area. As he was walking home, Washington could tell he was being followed.

A Tampa Police Officer asks Washington if she can "speak with him" to which he said No, as he wanted to just be home. She continued to follow him and said she needed to talk to him because he was wearing a grey hoodie. When Washington told the officer he can wear what he wants, she began to accuse him of having an attitude problem. As he was entering his own home, a team of Tampa Police officers took Washington down and many neighbors began filming.


Warning: These videos may be traumatizing

Police reform is necessary to prevent violent policing and arrests. Washington was profiled; in the video you hear the Tampa Police Officer state he "looked like somebody" because he is "wearing a hoodie". While the police spent their time brutalizing Washington, the actual perpetrator is still out doing whatever they're doing. Does that make you feel safe?

Admittedly, the Restorative Justice Coalition was not sure what we were doing: but we knew we had to do something! No help was given to us by attorney-staffed or funded organizations. The Friday before his trial, on a whim, Sadie, Emily and D'Angelo met with State Attorney Andrew Warren and discussed our concerns. To our surprise, that Monday, we received a call informing us that Robert Washington's charges had been dropped and that the police had no basis for this arrest.

This is only one drop in the bucket. We did not know it then but we were engaging in community work known as participatory defense.

There is power when community works together!