Andrew Joseph III was a 14-year-old Black teen attending “Student Day” at the Florida State Fair in Tampa back in 2014. After sheriff deputies racially targeted, harassed, physically searched, and unjustly removed Andrew from the fair, making no attempt to contact the middle-schooler’s parents, Andrew was dropped off on the side of a busy interstate 2 miles from the fair. And right before they dropped him off, they took a mugshot-style photo of him.
In an attempt to find his way back home, crossing the interstate, Andrew was hit and killed by a white motorist, who was never breathalyzed or held by law enforcement. To this day no one from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has been held accountable.
Andrew’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and requested that an investigation be conducted by the Department of Justice — which was denied. Next, they took their fight to the White House where they were rejected from speaking with the assistant attorney general.
It’s been more than 7 years since Andrew’s death and his family still has no answers. Police continue to use the unjust legal claim of “qualified immunity” to stall, drag out, and attempt to block Andrew’s family from having their day in court. Yesterday, Andrew’s family was in Atlanta presenting oral arguments in hopes of overcoming yet another appeal filed by Hillsborough County Sheriffs.
The dragged out process of getting accountability is something that Black families have had to deal with for far too long. That’s why it should be a top priority for Congress and the White House to end qualified immunity — to end the prioritization of protecting white supremacy in policing and start prioritizing the safety of our people.
Police need to be held accountable for their actions, and cannot continue to hide behind the guise of qualified immunity. Join us in demanding that Congress and the White House take action immediately, and make ending qualified immunity a top priority.
There was no communication with Andrew’s family on what happened that night at the fair. Unjustly targeting, searching, and removing a child from the fair was not public safety — it was violent white supremacy. Abandoning him on a busy road without protection was criminal. The Hillsboro Sheriff’s Department is criminal.
Unfortunately, cases like Andrew’s aren’t uncommon. Black families across the country are having to take the fight for accountability into their own hands. When the legal system continuously failed Andrew’s family, they turned to Black Lives Matter for support. And BLM is going to do exactly that — support them. Fight alongside them. Because we keep us safe.
We demand that the deputies and system that stole Andrew’s life be held accountable. We demand the end to every vestige of white supremacy embedded in the criminal legal system and beyond, beginning with the end to qualified immunity.
Fam, it’s time to demand Congress and the White House take urgent action to end qualified immunity. Add your name to the petition and tell them to end qualified immunity immediately.
Solidarity with Andrew’s family; solidarity in Andrew’s name; and in the name of liberation of all Black people. Let’s build a world that protects and reveres Black life…beginning with the end to qualified immunity.