Twitter has suspended the account of an actor for tweeting a photo and linking it without proof to Andrew Gillum, the former Florida gubernatorial candidate who was involved in a suspected drug incident at a hotel in Miami Beach earlier this month. James Woods, an Academy Awards-nominated actor, has ramped up his Republican rhetoric since the election of Donald Trump, with whom Gillum has in the past exchanged insults via Twitter. The brief suspension of Woods’ account promoted the hashtag #FreeJamesWoods to be among the top trending topics on Twitter Wednesday morning.
Woods was among conservatives rejoicing at the incident involving Gillum on the morning of March 13, prompting the once-promising actor whose career is effectively over to tweet a photo of a nude Black man who resembled the former mayor of Tallahassee. “Just remember, this could have been Florida’s governor in the midst of the #WuhanCoronaVirus pandemic,” Woods tweeted in part on Saturday just hours after the same photo had been widely shared on social media.
Woods’ account was suspended hours after an open letter was published addressing Gillum, Black men and the media about over coverage about the incident. Preston Mitchum and Michael Seaberry argued that news coverage should not be done in such a “salacious way and the terrorizing of Black life must not be the primary entrée. Sharing photos of Mayor Gillum’s naked body, especially in such a vulnerable state, is inexcusable and triggering to a community that has seen our own bodies fetishized and/or slain across the nation, from the lynching tree to Main Street. Quite frankly, we are sick of seeing Black bodies become a call-to-fame and the subject of your headlines.”
Perhaps Twitter also read their open letter as the social media platform apparently took action against Woods and his account at some point on Tuesday and overnight before restoring his tweeting privileges on Wednesday. The episode prompted the deplorable likes of Donald Trump Jr. to lobby via Twitter on Woods’ behalf.
Woods has been a major supporter of the president, who in the past has had his fair share of disparaging remarks about and to Gillum. When Gillum challenged the results of the gubernatorial election in 2018, Trump tweeted that he was “an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!” Gillum promptly returned fire: “What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course. Count every vote.”
Florida law enforcement has not verified the images on social media in addition to those published by conservative tabloid the Daily Mail that showed drugs and other images purportedly from inside the hotel room. The Miami Beach Police department announced on Sunday that it had opened a review into how the images along with the corresponding police report were leaked to the media before it was ready to be shared. Candace Owens was the first to post the police report to social media.
Owens’ involvement along with other aspects of Gillum’s hotel incident sparked suspicions of some type of political setup. While that was not confirmed, Owens’ likely anti-Black Democrat agenda was on display for all to see when she also tweeted a photo of Travis Dyson, one of two other men in the hotel from with Gillum. Owens claimed Dyson is “an openly gay man” with whom Gillum was having “a drug/sex party.” That tweet came more than two hours after Owens tweeted a copy of the police report.
After the news broke, Gillum, a 40-year-old married father of three, released a brief statement apologizing. He said he was in Miami “for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends.” Dyson, who was treated for a drug overdose, was later contacted by a reporter and denied knowing anything about a wedding. Dyson said he and Gillum have “been friends for a while” and that he “personally was not celebrating a wedding.”
Initial reports indicated methamphetamines were involved, prompting Gillum to first deny he’s ever used the drug before he voluntarily entered rehab on Monday for what he described as “alcohol abuse” and “depression” that he said followed his campaign to be governor. The admission was entirely out of character for a rising star within the Democratic Party who up until the incident had consistently presented himself as the consummate family man.
The police report claimed that the Miami Beach Police Department was called to the Mondrian Hotel at 1100 West Avenue just before 1 a.m. March 13 pertaining to a suspected drug overdose. Gillum, Dyson and a third man, Aldo Mejias, were inside of the hotel room when the Miami Beach Fire-Rescue arrived to treat a possible overdose Dyson.
Mejias told officers that he gave Dyson his credit card information on March 12 to book a hotel room for that evening. The men were supposed to reconvene later. Mejias reportedly told officers that when he arrived at the hotel room around 11 p.m., Dyson opened the door, collapsed on the bed and began vomiting. Mejias said he gave Dyson CPR and called the paramedics. He also said that while giving Dyson CPR, Gillum was in the bathroom, vomiting, according to the report.
Officers reportedly attempted to speak with Gillum but were unable to “due to his inebriated state.” Miami Beach Fire-Rescue said it returned to the hotel a second time to do a “welfare check” on Gillum, who authorities said by that time was stable and had normal vitals.
According to the police report, officers found three small baggies of “suspected crystal meth,” which were located on the bed and floor in the hotel room. The suspected drugs were taken as evidence.
However, there were no criminal charges for any of the men involved and officers said that Gillum left the Mondrian Hotel room “without incident” and returned to his home. Rodriguez, the MBPD spokesperson, told the Democrat no one was arrested because officers “responded to a medical call. The narcotics, although in plain view, were not in physical possession of anyone inside the room. The officers chose to impound the narcotics.”
Gillum, who was previously reported to be on a shortlist of potential Democratic vice presidential running mates, said he “will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future.” The CNN analyst had at one point even met with former President Barack Obama amid speculation about his own possible 2020 presidential campaign.
Prior to the incident in the hotel, Gillum had also been working as the chairman of Forward Florida Action, a political group that describes its objective as “registering and reengaging voters who are often unseen and unheard, electing more leaders that share our values to local office, and making the state legislature more diverse.”