Manatee County Commissioner – Under Color of Authority
Charles B. Smith is a Manatee County commissioner in Florida. Some of the constituents of that county saw him at the recent Bradenton protest leading a group of Black Lives Matter activists while wearing a Manatee county shirt. And they are not happy about it.
Black Lives Matter has openly called for the death of police officers on many occasions. By leading their march at the Bradenton Protest while wearing his county shirt, Smith gave the impression that Manatee County supports Black Lives Matter and their anti-law enforcement stance.
Charles Smith is a past vice president of the NAACP, and has a long list of Community Service organizations. He should have known better than to drag the county of Manatee into the middle of a politically charged group like Black Lives Matter.
One constituent told us,
“Was he at the front of this protest representing the Commission? Was he being paid to be there? If not, who authorized Mr. Smith to wear a Manatee County Commission shirt to a protest with individuals who are affiliated with a National movement that has called for the killing of our Law Enforcement Officers, even celebrated their deaths?”
The constituent, whom we will refer to as “D,” was unhappy that any commissioner would allow himself to be seen with a hate group like Black Lives Matter. The constituent also took exception to the fact that employees of the County would be fired for such a violation and was concerned that the Commissioners were not subjected to the same rules.
August 22- the day after the protest
The 5 hour meeting on August 22 of the Manatee county Commissioners is at this link.
The day after the protest, the commissioners admitted that some had approached them with questions after seeing Commissioner Smith leading the BLM protesters with his County shirt. Smith became defensive and said, “I will wear my shirt anywhere I please…”
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh stated that she had been attacked on Social Media and called names, not by the White Supremacists, but by the other side…and she specifically mentioned Commissioner Smith.”To give in to either group is wrong.” She said it’s not just one side, but it’s both sides. She stated she doesn’t like to be bullied.
Smith claimed to have been in 100’s of “these marches,” and stated that “it’s gonna get worse before it gets better,” and warned the commissioners that they could get hurt. Another commissioner stated that threats against the elected officials are subject to being arrested for a 1st degree misdemeanor. Many of them have received threats.
“They are using the statue as a weapon… there is no guarantee that if we move that thing today that the violence is going to stop. Where’s it going to stop?…We have just gone backwards in time! What is the motive, the purpose of this?… Both sides are acting like spoiled brats.” Commissioner Robin Disabatino
When the conversation turned to his wearing of the shirt, there was a verbal altercation, with some stating that it was now becoming a personal attack. Constituents had complained to them about the issue and the commission attempted to redirect the conversation back to the moving of the monument.
Ultimately the commission voted to move the Confederate Monument away from the Courthouse, not to destroy it. Whether or not that will solve their problem is unknown. But at the very least, Commissioner Charles B. Smith should have known better.