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City teachers’ union joins in call for Sykes to resign post

Toledo councilman on school board earlier

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Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes accused white police officers of profiling him after a traffic stop.

THE BLADE/LORI KING
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The Toledo Federation of Teachers got behind the city’s safety forces on Thursday calling for the resignation of Toledo Councilman Larry Sykes, whose claims of police profiling were ruled unfounded after an internal police investigation.

“I think the voters of Toledo deserve better and if Mr. Sykes does not resign, I will be calling upon the council members for censure as well,” said Kevin Dalton, president of the educators’ union, which represents more than 2,000. “He has created a hostile environment, which flies directly in the face of what this community has been trying to do for the past 18 months.”

Mr. Dalton was referring to the Changing Minds, Changing Lives forums hosted by various organizations, including The Blade, to discuss race and community relations. A censure from council would be a collective sign of disapproval and would not prevent Mr. Sykes from keeping his seat.

Mr. Sykes declined to comment.

There is no love lost between Mr. Sykes and the teachers’ union. In October, the union, along with dozens of other union leaders, rallied against Mr. Sykes and Adam Martinez who were seeking election and re-election to council respectively. The unions were upset at Mr. Sykes for, in part, his push to privatize food services in the schools.

Mr. Sykes, who is black, was pulled over by two white Toledo police officers April 24 and, several days later, wrote a letter to police Chief William Moton claiming that he had been profiled. The letter prompted an internal investigation, which ultimately found that the two officers, Derek Cranford and David Sprott, were justified in stopping Mr. Sykes, who did not have a front license plate and had a plastic cover obstructing the readability of his back plate.

On Tuesday, Toledo Firefighters Local 92 leaders sent a letter to Mr. Sykes calling for his resignation. Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association President Dan Wagner also demanded Mr. Sykes resign once the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Dalton said he has not yet sent a formal letter to Mr. Sykes, a former Toledo Public Schools Board of Education member who was elected to council in November, asking him to resign, but was working on a draft.

Mr. Dalton said other unions and the public should stand behind the police union. “They’re charged with providing a safe community and accusations like this maligns their efforts.”

Mr. Sykes has gotten rid of his personalized license plates, which used to read “4DRWBLK,” meaning “for driving while black.” He no longer has vanity plates.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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