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Civil rights leader Seville Brown alleges Rep. Darryl Rouson and Deveron Gibbons threatened his life over MLK parade planning dispute

By on August 12, 2012

This story is so difficult to believe that I’ll just leave it to Times‘ reporter Kameel Stanley to explain:

This much has become clear about next year’s celebration to honor civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.: There will be two of them.

Sevell Brown’s annual parade will continue as usual that Monday, but will be joined by an inaugural day of service organized by State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

While the debate over what festivities should be held when appears to be over, the drama between the two community leaders isn’t.

Brown, who founded the parade more than two decades ago, has written a letter to the U.S. Justice Department alleging that Rouson has threatened his life.

Rouson led the charge earlier this year to move the parade to Saturday, replaced by his day of service.

That would be a more fitting tribute to the slain civil rights leader, he said.

Brown, who refused to move the parade, also claims two other well-connected men in the community — Deveron Gibbons and Jeff Copeland — have made threats against him.

“They have continuously stated that they have people that ‘can take me out’ as oppose to them having to do it themselves,’” Brown wrote in a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in July.

Brown has not, however, taken his concerns to local authorities. He also refused to provide the Tampa Bay Times with the names or statements of two witnesses he said informed him of the threats.

Rouson, who knew nothing of the letter until contacted by the Times this week, called Brown’s allegations “ridiculous.”

“Some things do not deserve comment,” said Rouson, who also is an attorney.

Neither Copeland, who once worked on Mayor Bill Foster’s campaign, nor Gibbons, a former mayoral candidate who sits on the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees, could be reached for comment.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on Brown’s letter.

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