CREATED Jul. 19, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- After a week and a half of jabs between lee sheriff mike scott and the president of the lee county NAACP, the air is being cleared. Sort of.
Multiple e-mails and letters between the sheriff and NAACP leader James Muwakkil have only inflamed the issue of race relations.
The two agreed to meet publicly today but that fell apart.
Its been a war of words and press conferences, but neither the sheriff or the NAACP want it to continue.
Its been a tense week for brother James MuwakkIl, who claims he has had to fend off not one but two e-mails written by Sheriff Mike Scott,criticizing the motives of the NAACP.
Muwakkil said "The NACCP does not want to be in a long standing feud with the Lee County sheriff's department."
It all started with the NAACP wanting a discussion with the county commission on several items.
One involved the removal of the painting of Robert E Lee, saying it was symbolic of some bigger problems: such as voting procedures and minority hiring practices.
Muwakkel points out "you don't want to put a symbol that represents some and oppresses others."
But Sheriff Scott didn't agree and said in a letter to the NAACP and the county commission that the sheriff would not attend nor support the naacp freedom fund awards banquet this year.
And added that "the timing so proximate to the Zimmerman , race baiting is certainly suspect."
Muwakkil said the naacp letter was about government issues and was not criticizing law enforcement.
The leader of the NAACP points out that "Sheriff Mike Scott inserted himself into our conversation with the Lee County government... when it had nothing to do with him."
The sheriff said he respectfully disagrees , especially since he had been going to the NAACP banquet on an annual basis.
He adds that "in this case after five years of running of support and financial aid.. and to simply not show up would be simply ominous."
And since this difference of opinion has become public, the sheriff says the naacp needs to see the bigger picture- and move beyond the Robert E Lee portrait and Zimmerman case.
He adds that "you cant believe the feedback I'm getting from all over the country - not just my friends- but people from all over the country.
I believe there is a strong coalition all over the country that believes this Zimmerman thing has been taken too far."
Both men said they value their working relationship and their first meeting will be private so they can work on finding common ground that will move the community forward towards positive race relations.