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Black Political Leaders Protest Council ‘Arrests’

September 28, 1989 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Black political leaders are blasting the City Council president and the sheriff’s office for using arrest warrants and restraints to force three black members to return to a meeting for a vote.

Arrest warrants, handcuffs and bolted doors were used to detain Warren Jones, Dietra Micks and Denise Lee after they left the meeting. President Tillie Fowler ordered them returned so the Council would have a quorum.

The three council members walked out Tuesday after failing to get more money for sewage and drainage projects in their districts, leaving the council without a quorum to adopt the city budget.

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State Sen. Arnett Girardeau said the council president’s decision to issue arrest warrants for the three set Jacksonville back years in terms of racial relations.

″We have witnessed last night a preview of apartheid,″ Girardeau said at a news conference Wednesday.

Other black leaders protesting the action were state Reps. Betty Holzendorf and Corrine Brown, Civil Service Board Chairman Terry Fields and the three council members. They were joined by several black ministers, NAACP President Willye Dennis and businessmen.

″This act ... was an embarrassment to the entire Jacksonville community and showed a void in the leadership of the City Council,″ Ms. Holzendorf said.

Undersheriff Raymond Miley said the Sheriff’s Office will investigate the conduct of the officers who forced the council members back to the meeting.

Mrs. Fowler said she thought the three council members acted irresponsibly by walking out and almost delaying passage of the budget that takes effect Oct. 1.

She said her actions were not racially motivated and said the procedure had been used in the past.