Organizers of area events doubt anyone locally was involved.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Although a note implicating Black Lives Matter was found next to a firebombed Daytona Beach police car early Sunday morning, area organizers of marches and protests don’t believe anyone locally connected with the movement was involved.
The car, which was parked near the Islamic Center of Daytona Beach, made national news.
Firefighters responded to calls and arrived to see a police squad car fully engulfed in flames.
“Someone did firebomb the car at about 2 a.m. and left a note next to the car,” confirmed Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.
Black Lives Matter note
According to a police report, the note read: Black Lives Matter, A. Starling P. Castile and F… The Police!!!
Alton Sterling, 37, was shot to death by police shot to death police in Baton Rouge, La. On July 5.
The next day, Philando Castille, 32, was shot dead by a White Minnesota policeman during a traffic stop for a busted taillight. The deaths have led to Black Lives Matter protests nationwide.
“We are not attaching it to anything other than the person responsible is a just a knucklehead.
There is no way to tell who left it there. This is just what we have,” Chitwood said.
As of the Daytona Times presstime on Wednesday, there had been no reported arrests in the incident.
The state fire marshal will investigate the incident, which appears to be an act of arson.
The squad car had been placed near the Islamic Center, located on 347 S. Keech St., after a threat was made against the center in early June in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.
“We are working with the police department. We have shared video with them. We are cooperating with them and doing anything we can to help them,” said Hassam Ali, president of the center.
The police have stepped up patrols in the area and have assigned extra officers during services at the Islamic Center.
“When Ramadan started, the Islamic Center was in a threat level situation. They wanted us to beef up our present. We put the car there. It worked well. Some people liked the car, so I left it,” Chitwood explained.
The Islamic Center and other local faith based organization are denouncing this act.
“We hope that this incident isn’t any kind of backlash that some of the communities in this country are experiencing. We hope that no one is using this as a way to express negativity towards the police or any group of people,” Ali remarked.
Organizers: Not us
Those who have organized recent marches and protests in the Daytona area don’t believe that the Black Lives Matter movement or anyone associated with it left the note.
“We don’t promote violence at any level. This was evident at recent marches and protests. It is just suspect that a car and everything in it was burnt except a note claiming the Black Lives Matter movement,’’ said Carlos Harris, a Deltona High School teacher and Daytona resident who organized a march on July 9 with about 200 participants.
“However, we do understand that there are examples of bad apples in a group, but we can’t attribute any such incident as the dominating example representing the movement.’’
Sean Hamilton agreed, “I don’t think it has anything to do with what is going on in the nation. I doubt that any Black group was involved, including Black Lives Mater. Essentially, we have no Black Lives Matter group in Daytona. We are not a group or organization. We are mainly a group of concerned citizens and parents getting out here and making our concerns known. There are just people out there who want to have people unsettled and against each other.”
Hamilton is the offspring of two former police officers and father of four sons who organized a rally and march on July 17.
Prayer for police
The Rev. Derrick Harrison renounced the act.
“Those who commit these acts are out of the character and will of God,” Harris told the Daytona Times.
Harris is the president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance and pastor of Master’s Domain Church of God In Christ.
The alliance was scheduled to have a prayer to show support for the police on Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at Master’s Domain, 511 Freemont Ave.
“The Black Clergy Alliance supports the Daytona Beach Police Department and law enforcement as a whole. We pray for them to have wisdom and protection as the deal with situations while they protect us. We pray that God protects them,” Harris said.
The police department has no plans to add even more security near the Islamic Center.
“I don’t like ghost cars out there. We are not going to do that. We will remain diligent, aware and responsive in the area,” said Chitwood.
The Islamic Center doesn’t have any other safety concerns.
“We are reviewing some things that we could do security wise. We have full trust and confidence in the police department. We believe that they are doing what they can and must do to make the area safe for everybody in the community,” Ali added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Daytona Beach Police Department at 386-671-5100.