JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demonstrators returned Tuesday to the Duval County Courthouse for a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd, who died while in custody of Minneapolis police.
The demonstration Tuesday evening outside the courthouse was intended to “spread the word," and “help us keep it peaceful,” according to a flyer. It wasn’t immediately clear who organized the demonstration.
“We do not incite violence on ourselves," a demonstrator said. "We want to be decent human beings. We want to live our lives. We do not deserve to be treated like animals. We have the right to live and be comfortable in our skin and in our space.”
After an hour of protesting in front of the Duval County Courthouse, demonstrators marched through Downtown Jacksonville where they momentarily stopped in front of City Hall before continuing their march through the city and eventually back to the Courthouse.
Randy Pullings, pastor of Freedom Hills Chapel, attended Tuesday’s protest downtown.
“I’m not here to say this side is wrong or that side is wrong. We’re here to pray for everybody, the police officers and everybody that’s out here. Ultimately lives are what really matter right now, and we don’t want any life being taken any more,” Pullings said.
About an hour before the protest began, the Jacksonville Branch NAACP issued a letter addressed to Sheriff Mike Williams in reference to the recent demonstrations. The letter demanded changes from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, including the release of body camera footage within 48 hours of a police shooting, a review of JSO’s use of force policy and complete transparency throughout an internal affairs process.
Following the downtown protest, Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted:
My city has citizens expressing free speech tonight in a peaceful way. Thank you Jacksonville. I, along with the majority of our city council, thank you. You are a light.— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) June 3, 2020
In St. Johns County’s Nocatee neighborhood, people gathered Tuesday near the intersection of Crosswater Parkway and Preservation Trail for what was said to be a “family-friendly” protest.
Dozens of people took part in the protest that was sparked by the death of George Floyd. Demonstrators were also supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jasmine Hurt, a Ponte Vedra High School graduate, said she wanted to make sure her voice was heard.
“As the first black Ms. Ponte Vedra, I understand what we had to go through all four years of high school. A lot of our peers were extremely racist, a lot of people would say horrific things to us at school, so it’s not just a single isolated incident of just police brutality,” Hurt said.
A father and son, who are both in law enforcement, took a knee during the demonstration.
“Yeah I’m a police officer, but what I saw up in Minneapolis just disgusts me, and honestly, I’m ashamed," said Chase Tucker. "That’s why I’m here.”
A car of counter protesters drove up to the crowd, briefly causing a stir. They left after being approached by St. Johns County deputies.
The demonstrations come days after a peaceful protest in downtown Jacksonville turned violent, leading to the arrests of 78 people. Most were charged with unlawful assembly while others also had resisting arrest charges. Sixty two were from Duval County.
Saturday’s protest and its aftermath prompted a citywide curfew Sunday night.
Tuesday morning, Mayor Lenny Curry spoke during a City Council meeting, saying he rescinded the state of emergency he implemented Sunday that allowed him to institute an overnight curfew.