GPD body camera video shows Washington asking to go to jail during Gainesville commission meeting; he speaks out
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Gainesville man, who was arrested at a Gainesville City commission meeting on Thursday, is now speaking out.
Ray Washington was arrested after he did not leave City Hall when asked, after he failed to follow the city’s mask policy.
“We gave him ample opportunity to comply he chose not to,” City Manager Lee Feldman told TV20 on Thursday night. “Ultimately, we needed to have the meeting go on. We had to remove him from the building.”
The local Gainesville lawyer was speaking at the public comment podium when he said he removed his face mask, so people could hear him. He refused to put it back on, and Feldman had him trespassed from the building and removed by police.
“What I was trying to say, ‘Mr. Mayor, you know better,’ and I got cut off,” Washington told TV20. “The device he used this time was the mask thing. But the mask thing has nothing to do with it. Switching the rules every meeting....We’re going to get this settled in court - one way or the another.”
Gainesville Police sent TV20 the body camera footage (video attached below) from the arrest. In the video, Washington argues that he was not being disruptive but did not resist arrest. He did, however, not leave the building when asked. The GPD officer is heard asking Washington to go outside, but Washington continued to say no.
“I will stand here and be taken to jail,” Washington is heard on the video. “I’m not resisting. I am putting my hands up.”
The police officer then tells Washington he just wanted to take him outside to talk.
“I’m not walking outside,” Washington answered. “I have a right to be in this room.”
After some back and forth on what defines as trespassing, Washington says, “please take me to jail.”
Washington contends that the mask was not the issue.
According to him, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe had him silenced because he was speaking about a recent program by Gainesville Regional Utilities. This program would involve installing an advanced metering infrastructure that GRU claims would increase accuracy of readings. However, Washington questions if it’s actually for increased revenue for GRU.
“It’s not about masks. That’s the latest device,” said Washington. “If this plays out like I hope it will, I won’t have spent a night in jail for nothing. I spent a night in jail so we could have a discovery and show this year and a half plan once the finances of the city are coming apart to suppress citizens’ comment.”
Washington was charged with trespassing and he plans to fight the charges. Washington hopes this issue goes to trial.
Copyright 2021 WCJB. All rights reserved.