FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dunbar community members rallied today in front of the Jones Walker apartment complex to protest the property’s decision not to hire a minority contractor.
“We are fighting for the ones who need work...and can’t support their families, ” said Yaquan Powell.
Dunbar has one of the highest unemployment rates in all of Lee county, James Muwakkil president of the local NAACP chapter emphasizes the importance of hiring from within the community.
“Lots of African-American men are unemployed and they are looking for opportunity, ” said James Muwakkil.
“All these brothers will work, I’ll go to work right now, and its sad that it doesn’t matter, ” said Severino Ramos.
The current contractor, Wildcat Renovation, is local but not minority-owned…Muwakkil says this project would have been a great opportunity to boost the Dunbar economy.
“Have more respect than to come in and bring everybody from out the Dunbar community to work in the Dunbar community when you have abled body working people who are looking for jobs,” said Muwakkil.
Protesters demand equal employment opportunities.
“It doesn’t have to do with they don’t meet the standards or they are illiterate, it just has to do with who we are, ” said Yaquan Powell.
Fort Myers city Councilman Streets says he is open to discussing hiring practices within the community.
He notes that it is not up to the city to dictate who the property chooses as a contractor.
“I will keep my options open to sit down and talk and negotiate, but i don’t think the city can tell a developer who they can and cannot hire,” said Streets.
Fox 4 reached out to the property managers about the contractor selection process, and have yet to receive a response.
Protesters say today was only step one in ensuring equal employment within the Dunbar community.