Gainesville city workers find video of city commissioner raising middle finger at vaccine mandate protesters

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Thursday’s Gainesville City Commission meeting was cancelled after Commissioner Reina Saco was sent a threat, and the same commissioner was caught on camera using a profane hand gesture towards city employees back in August.

Gainesville firefighter Lt. Jonathan Cicio said they were peacefully protesting the city’s vaccine mandate, and not the vaccine itself, when they saw Commissioner Saco raise her middle finger towards the crowd.

“So we were just out in the area holding the signs milling around,” Cicio said. “As she walked back across the parking lot, there it went.”

A strong gesture that his children and many others witnessed.

“My kids asked ‘why she so upset?’ And I said ‘I don’t know we’re the ones that are about to lose our job,’” Cicio explained.

TV20′s Camille Syed ran into Saco and she declined to speak on camera.

She did send a statement to TV20 saying she recalls a protester telling her to go back to where she came from, or something along those lines. She says she reacted out of frustration as the comment was hurtful because she’s a refugee from Cuba.

Cicio said that is not true and it might be time for her to step down.

“I think she displayed her true colors there,” Cicio added. “If I was to do that to a group of people… whatever the reason was, I’m not fit for my job. And I don’t have the power to decide things like she’s attempting for a thousand people.”

Saco also said she reacted without thinking and that she was not proud of her response.

Saco went back and forth with a couple of residents, including activist Chanae Jackson at Monday night’s 7-hour meeting.

Now the city’s regularly schedule Thursday meeting is cancelled as a Gainesville police spokesperson said they are looking into “non criminal threats” made on Facebook by Jackson toward Saco, saying she would “drag” the commissioner and smile in the mugshot.

Related story: BREAKING: Gainesville City Commission meeting cancelled due to threats against commissioners

Jackson said Saco is nasty to residents and people have made threats before without consequences.

“Now that I’ve matched that energy now it’s been transitioned to ‘Oh there are threats of violence.’ I can show you a myriad of meetings where they were threatened by white men that are a great deal bigger than me,” Jackson said.

Police are not aware of any other comments or threats toward commissioners.

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