St. Petersburg police officers are calling for the removal of an illegal street sign that honors a black man killed by an officer decades ago, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The shooting led to two days of riots in the Midtown area.
On Oct. 24, the 20th anniversary of the shooting, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement changed the name of 18th Avenue S to TyRon Lewis Avenue at 16th Street S.
"The sign is up and it's gonna stay up," said Chimurenga Selembao, one of the Uhuru members in St. Pete.
"We had a 24-hour security around the sign for the first couple of days because we knew it would probably be a hostile reaction to it."
The sign has upset many in law enforcement.
"This sign is a slap in the face to every single law enforcement officer in Pinellas County," Suncoast Police Benevolent Association President George Lofton, a St. Petersburg detective, wrote to Mayor Rick Kriseman last week as quoted by the Times.
"We expected blowback," Selembao said, adding they did not need permission to place the sign. "The city hasn't done anything for black people. We are not disturbed by this."
Lewis was driving a stolen car when pulled over by St. Petersburg police. He and a passenger refused to unlock their doors or roll down their windows. The car rolled forward, knocking Officer James Knight onto the hood. The officer then fired three shots, killing Lewis.
In 1996, Lewis was driving a stolen car when police pulled him over near the intersection. Lewis and his passenger refused to open the windows or doors, and the car rolled toward Officer James Knight, who was then knocked onto the hood of the car. Knight then fired at Lewis.
(© 2017 WTSP)