JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seven months after protesters shut down the Hart Bridge in downtown Jacksonville, the demonstrator charged with assaulting an officer as he tried to arrest her is opening up.
Siddie Friar, 29, was one of the 19 protestors that Jacksonville Sheriff's Officers arrested for obstructing the roadway, becoming known as the "Jacksonville 19."
Friar was the only person to be charged with a felony because police said she hit an officer in the face. Last week, a judge sentenced her to probation and community service.
Friar said she was so sorry that things ended the way they did. She never wanted to hurt anyone, especially not a police officer. She's thankful to have a second chance and learned a lot from what happened.
"It was just never my intention to do that. But I understand it did happen. And as far as the resisting, I don't really know how to respond to that. The judge asked me a similar question and it really gets fuzzy. I just very much went into like a survival mode," Friar said.
According to Friar, she set out with the best of intentions, joining a group of other demonstrators on the Hart Bridge last December to protest the handling of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.
Police charged Friar with two felonies and a misdemeanor, and last week a judge sentenced her to five years of probation, and 500 hours of community service for hitting the officer.
"And I looked at him in the courtroom and I was fighting back tears, because I didn't want to hurt anyone. It's quite the opposite. I spend my time trying to bring healing and wellness to people. And I let him know that I was sorry and that I truly mean it," Friar said, talking about her day in court.
The judge withheld adjudication for Friar, choosing not to charge her with a felony, but told Friar that she's not allowed to have any contact with any of the other 18 protesters arrested that night.
Friar will do her community service working with kids at the local Police Athletic League. She said she's excited to help. She's also teaching yoga and has plans to open her own studio very soon.
The other 18 protesters arrested have all been sentenced to probation after claiming they were wrongfully arrested for locally protesting what they call police violence and brutality across the nation.