At the last Tallahassee city commission meeting, Mayor Andrew Gillum ignored questions about his interactions with the Tallahassee Democrat over a controversial photo, and instead, publicly accused TR editor, Steve Stewart, of assaulting Gillum’s recently appointed chief of staff, Jamie Van Pelt.
Specifically, TR was seeking answers to questions based on our previous report that indicated the Tallahassee Democrat and Mayor Andrew Gillum had negotiated a deal over what would be reported about a picture of Gillum and Adam Corey.
After Gillum finished an interview with a WCTV reporter, Gillum, Van Pelt and Stewart headed towards the entrance of the city hall chambers.
Stewart was actively recording and asking Mr. Gillum a question.
After Van Pelt and Stewart bumped shoulders trying to get through the entrance of the doorway leading into the city hall chambers, Gillum ignored all questions and repeatedly accused Stewart of physical assault.
A video of the doorway incident -which lasted less than two seconds – clearly shows that Gillum did not witness the bumping. Also, the video shows that Mr. Stewart was recording with his smart phone in his right hand for the entire episode.
Despite this, Gillum repeatedly accused Stewart of assault and putting his hands on Mr. Van Pelt.
Gillum said “you physically assaulted a city staffer….. you put your hands on him I saw you..”
After Gillum told city manager Reese Goad that Stewart put his hands on a city staffer, Mr. Stewart continued to ask questions – all were ignored. Stewart then left the meeting.
However, that was not the end.
At the end of the city commission meeting, when elected officials freely discuss issues, Gillum commented on the incident and publicly stated he would support Van Pelt if he filed charges against Stewart.
“Unfortunately earlier today a citizen did physically put his hands on Jamie ….I actually observed this once before….when it happened before, I shouldn’t confess this but I encouraged him to just to sorta let it go and keep moving. And when I saw it happen this second time, I told him whatever he wanted to do I would support his decision if he wanted to file any charges…”
No charges have been filed by either party over the bumping incident and TR’s questions remain unanswered.