JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After publicly announcing the success of a social media investigation targeting known gang members in the Jacksonville community, politicians are taking aim at Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams, saying Tuesday's news conference was politically-motivated.
According to Williams, "Operation Rap Up" was used to identify members of street gangs who have been using social media to threaten and intimidate others, often times making the threats in music videos. The videos are not unlawful, but convicted felons are seen in the videos in possession of firearms, which is illegal.
Williams said the operation is helping to cut down on violence in the community, but Dr. Tony Cummings, Williams' opponent in the upcoming election, called it a political ploy.
"That is not engaging the community. That is not staying in touch with the community. That is not protecting the community. That is just being passive," Cummings said.
Curry also spoke during the news conference, saying the operation shows how Jacksonville is fighting crime. His challenger in the upcoming mayoral race, Anna Brosche, was quick to react.
"I think there has been an effort on their part to convince the public that crime is not an issue, and I am not sure people are buying it," Brosche said.
Campaigning on crime is nothing new, and News4Jax Political Analyst Rick Mullaney said voters can expect to hear much more of it before the election in March.
"(There's) no surprise with violent crime being a great concern, there have been some high profile cases. No surprise that this will take center stage in elections," Mullaney said.
Six men were arrested in connection to the operation, the Sheriff's Office said. As of Wednesday, the three men below were still sought.