Scott Israel Won’t Attend Debate Hosted by Black Lives Matter | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Scott Israel Won’t Attend Debate Hosted by Black Lives Matter

Update: We've heard from the event organizers that Israel changed his response after this story was published, and will try to attend the debate for half an hour tonight, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. 

Tonight, the Broward Dream Defenders and Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward will host an unscripted debate between the candidates for county sheriff. The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the African-American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale. It will include an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

One contender, however, will be noticeably absent: Scott Israel, the incumbent and current frontrunner.

Jasmen Rogers, who organized the event, says all candidates who have qualified for a spot on the ballot were invited and given the same amount of time to respond. Despite sending three emails and a letter, she never got an answer from Israel or his campaign staff. “In my opinion, he’s refusing to show up and be with the community, so that’s disappointing,” she says.

In response to an inquiry from New Times, Amy Rose, Israel’s campaign manager, confirmed he would not be attending and said she had informed the organizers.

“Unfortunately, we have to address these candidate forums in the order in which they are received and we had already committed to two other events for tomorrow evening,” she wrote in an email.

Rogers is certain she never received a response. In any case, it’s too bad Israel won’t be at the debate to take questions tonight because the black community has every reason to demand answers. Here are some highlights from his four-year tenure leading the BSO:
“There’s a certain population that still doesn’t trust the BSO, whether it’s because they’re being brutalized or harassed on the street, or because they’re still concerned that the BSO killed someone,” Rogers says.

Ironically, back in 2012, Israel defeated his rival Al Lamberti in part because he campaigned heavily in the black community. Those votes might be harder to get this time around: He’s being challenged by Willie Jones, a former cop who founded the Fort Lauderdale Black Police Officer’s Association and wants to improve relationships between the community and the police.

Still, it’s entirely possible that Israel isn’t making the debate a priority because he thinks the race is already in the bag. According to his campaign’s most recent filings, he’s already raised $362,574.98. In comparison, Jones has only raised $81,156.25.

Another reason Israel might not want to take part is that the last community forum he attended didn’t go very well. According to the Sun-Sentinel, a man lashed out at him during the Black on Black Crime Solutions Panel this past weekend, telling him, “I'm scared out here because I might get killed by one of you crackers,” before he was removed from the room. 
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Antonia Farzan is a fellow at New Times. After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, she moved to South Florida to pursue her dream of seeing a manatee and meeting DJ Khaled (ideally at the same time). She was born and raised in Rhode Island and has a BA in classics from Hamilton College.