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Pressured Florida governor calls for review of “justified” verdict in police murder of Javon Dawson

Aug 13, 2008

Justice for Javon Dawson demonstration in front of Florida governor Charlie Crist's office


TALLAHASSEE, FL — On Wednesday, August 13, the halls of the Florida governor’s office were filled with chants demanding justice for Javon Dawson, a 17-year-old African murdered by St. Petersburg policeman and battle-scarred, Iraq war veteran Terrance Nemeth on June 9.

The march to and demonstration at the governor’s office follows in a long process of political struggle led by the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee (JJDC) — a committee of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) — to win justice in the face of an “investigation” by State’s Attorney Bernie McCabe who has a history of giving a green light to police to murder African people.

In fact, McCabe has stamped every police murder of an African as “justified” since he’s been in office. The JJDC has been applying constant pressure on the State to have McCabe removed from the investigation on the grounds that McCabe enjoys an incestuous relationship with the police department whose officers are currently testifying for him in more than 100 cases.

Javon Dawson’s killer, Terrance Nemeth himself has testified for McCabe in more than 90 cases. Based on these facts, the JJDC argues that it is a conflict of interest for McCabe to then be responsible for investigating his collaborators, the St. Petersburg Police Department.

McCabe’s office attempts to preempt meeting with governor

The Justice for Javon Dawson Committee had held a press conference the preceding week announcing its intentions to go to Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s office to demand Bernie McCabe’s removal from the investigation based on conflict of interests. Subsequently, 3,000 signatures on a petition supporting the demand had been faxed to the governor’s office.

In a suspiciously preemptive move, McCabe announced a verdict justifying Terrance Nemeth’s murder of Javon Dawson just one day before the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee’s scheduled meeting with the governor. This verdict announcement was accompanied by an eight-page letter from McCabe’s office riddled with contradictions.

The evidence highlighted in the document contradicted the story of the police who claim Javon Dawson pointed a gun at killer cop Terrance Nemeth. The document claims that somehow gunpowder residue was supposedly found in Javon’s pocket while Nemeth’s testimony says Javon dropped the gun after he killed him making it impossible for him to have placed it in his pocket. It also glosses over the fact that no gunpowder residue was found on Javon’s hands. It ignored the fact that the only testimony from the crowd of more than 200 people present that said Javon even had a gun was that of killer cop Terrance Nemeth. These and other numerous contradictions in the document pointed to a cover-up.

Florida governor calls for review

Despite the state attorney’s attempts to preempt the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee’s demonstration and meeting at the Florida governor’s office with the verdict announcement, Uhuru organizers were determined to continue. Demonstrators marched to the governor’s office and delivered 1,700 more signatures demanding an independent investigation.

After JJDC members met with the Florida governor’s chief of staff, they emerged from the office with a copy of a letter faxed to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey calling for a review of the state attorney’s investigation.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe was upset stating, “It’s never happened before and I don’t know why it’s being done now.”

While the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee recognized the review into the state attorney’s investigation a victory, its representatives made clear that the struggle for justice for Javon Dawson does not end with this review and that despite its initiation, the Uhuru Movement will continue to organize and struggle in the streets for justice.

For more information on this case or to contact the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee go to or call 727-821-6620


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