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Organizer of Williston protest where six were shot speaks out

Published: Sep. 5, 2020 at 5:43 PM EDT
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WILLSTON, Fla. (WCJB) - A peaceful protest in East Williston to combat what organizers say is unequal police narratives ended in shots being fired.

At 3 a.m. on Saturday, a peaceful protest led to an early morning block party that turned violent leaving six people shot. However, law enforcement’s quick response and detailed release right after the shootings has the protest party’s organizer saying, it’s just more proof there are unequal narratives being pushed about white violence and partying versus black violence and partying in Williston.

“We had a whole press release probably about 4:30 this morning with everything,” said Kenuel Gates, who organized the protest party. “It included how many people it was, alcohol, Mr. Gates brought violence into the community. Where was that narrative last week? We didn’t get that until two days later.”

Gates is talking about a mostly white party where one teenager was shot on Aug. 28, but no information about the shooting was released until days later. Still, Gates says he is not responsible for the shooting because he left before it happened.

“The event that was there, the protest portion was peaceful. What happened after that I’m not an officer I can’t make anybody leave or move. So when I left I cut my lights out. I had the DJ leave and we went home.”

Gates acknowledges there were drugs and alcohol at the part, but says he didn’t encourage it. He also says that is part of the unequal narrative that law enforcement did not report about drugs and alcohol at the August party.

Gates had strong message, however, to those that brought guns to the party.

“You tried to bring a bad light on a positive situation and if I find out who you are you cannot come to anything that I promote period. You are not welcome in Williston.”

According to a Levy County Sheriff’s Office report, two of the victims were from Gainesville, while the four were from Ocala. One victim remains in critical condition, as of our update at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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