JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Based on booking records, it appears the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested at least 79 people late Saturday or on Sunday -- the arrests beginning hours after the estimated 1,200 or more people held a peaceful protest and march through downtown.
The vast majority of those were charged with unlawful assembly -- a misdemeanor.
The trouble started just before 6 p.m. Saturday, with News4Jax reporters witnessing large numbers of police in tactical gear confronting up to 200 protesters who had not cleared the streets. There were a few skirmishes and tear gas being deployed. At least seven downtown buildings -- including the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office on Market Street -- and several JSO cruisers were vandalized.
Most of those arrested after Saturday night’s unrest were charged with a single misdemeanor count and released within hours. One man, Hubert Rivers, 19, was also charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and several counts of criminal mischief.
Sheriff Mike Williams on Saturday night said one officer was stabbed or slashed on the neck and had to be hospitalized during the confrontation. JSO provided no other information about the severity of the injury, but the Fraternal Order Police tweeted that the officer was released and recovering.
“I don’t have a direct count as of yet, but (there was) a lot of direct action against the first responders that were out there protecting that peaceful protest from earlier today,” Williams said.
Those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 80. At least one other person was also charged with criminal mischief, one was charged with trespassing. News4Jax has requested the arrest reports to learn more about what these people did to get arrested and whether they are Jacksonville residents, but it can typically take days for the JSO to fulfill media requests.
Our cameras caught several of the arrests at they happened on Bay Street, including that Shawna Clark.
Clark said she was a part of the demonstration that police said devolved into unrest after most of the crowd had gone.
“I didn’t so much as curse at the police,” Clark said. “It was unconstitutional. It was uncalled for.”
Clark, who was charged with affray -- the legal term for fighting -- was held for less than 24 hours and released for time served.
“I had to raise my voice to be heard, that’s when they handcuffed me," she said. "They manhandled me, put me in cuffs, took me away and, when my family tried to grab me out of their arms, they pushed them to the ground.”
Both Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry, like other government officials across the nation where violence broke out after protests, blamed outsiders for causing the trouble.
“I believe the shift is when the people of our community go home and the people from other communities who have come here to do this stay,” Williams said hours after the violence. “So that’s what we’re dealing with today -- a completely different issue than the three o’clock, peaceful protest. This is not an offshoot of that this is something that people are capitalizing on the situation and coming and doing things that obviously, we usually don’t deal with in the city.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office’s inmate database, the majority of those arrested indicated that they live in Jacksonville.
There was no violence or vandalism on the second day of protests, although Curry declared a curfew from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Sunday for all of Duval County except the beach communities and Baldwin.