News Pensacola Politics

Jerralds vs. Hawthorne and the Battle Over the GCAACC

March 16, 2012

By the time Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds called the police, George Hawthorne had summed up the Friday afternoon meeting as “odd” and “ludicrous.”

“George, I’m not gonna play with you,” Jerralds told him.

The councilman was opening up his public meeting concerning the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, of which Hawthorne is the chairman. Jerralds, who is not a member of the chamber, had earlier said that he needed to come to its “assistance and resuscitate it.”

Hawthorne said he had learned of the meeting through the press. The GCAACC chairman refused to leave when Jerralds threatened to call the police.

“You’re not gonna make me look like a fool,” Jerralds said.

“You already made yourself look like a fool,” Hawthorne replied.

Eventually a Pensacola Police Officer arrived and Hawthorne stepped into the hallway. The meeting continued, during which citizens discussed, among other things, the role of an African-American chamber of commerce.

The GCAACC chairman stayed in the hallway for a while talking with police, but left Pensacola City Hall before the meeting ended. During the meeting, Jerralds conceded to the gallery’s request to let Hawthorne back in the room, but the chairman did not return.

“I told you it was gonna be fireworks,” Hawthorne said via phone as the meeting continued.

The GCAACC chairman said that he chose to leave rather than “tie up the Pensacola Police Department with this foolishness.”

“He’s mad because I say he’s an ineffective leader and I want somebody to run against him,” Hawthorne said. “That’s what all this is about.”

Hawthorne said he planned to file a complaint next week with the State Attorney’s Office in regards to Jerralds throwing him out of the meeting. He feels that was an abuse of Jerralds’ authority as a city councilman.

In the meeting room, members of the African-American business community talked shop for the full two hours Jerralds had reserved the meeting room.

—check back for the complete story

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