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Jacksonville block parties carry on despite social distancing orders

Viewer videos show dozens of people partying in the streets over the weekend

Block parties thrown in defiance of social distancing
Block parties thrown in defiance of social distancing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As local leaders and health experts call for social distancing and people to stay home if possible, Jacksonville police had to break up multiple block parties over the weekend.

Video clips obtained by News4Jax show people who appeared to be defying orders from Mayor Lenny Curry, Gov. Ron DeSantis and law enforcement officials.

Some tipsters estimated the parties they saw had roughly 300 people in attendance.

One video posted on Facebook shows dozens of people gathered in the street as police drive through trying to break up the crowds. Some people even taunted the officers.

“They’re doing it here in the public,” a concerned neighbor told News4Jax. “And it’s over 300 people in this one area yesterday.”

Concerns came from a number of citizens who pointed out this kind of behavior is putting people at risk of transmitting COVID-19, as well as violence.

Another video shows a brawl with multiple women attacking each other over the weekend. Police lights were visible in the distance.

“That’s when the police came in and told them, ‘Just go, just go,’” a neighbor said.

The clips are surfacing as leaders, including the mayor and President Donald Trump, tell people to stay away from others and avoid parties.

On Monday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said his officers are trying their best to rein in these gatherings as they find out about them.

“Most people were cooperative when we got there and, you know, obviously, as that point chose to go back home,” Williams said. “So we will respond to that and we get those calls and obviously responding appropriately and encourage people to comply."

Yet some neighbors contend the enforcement needs to be stricter.

Another social media posts shows a $10 cover charge with alcohol being sold without a permit and attendees told to park behind a building.

“Take it seriously,” warned one neighbor. “Stay home."

Mayor Curry said he’s looking into the possibility of stay-home orders, based on what he’s seen done in other cities. He’s studying whether a similar measure would work in Duval.

News4Jax sent the videos to Steve Zona, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, who said he was disappointed that people aren’t taking the risks to themselves and others more seriously.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.