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Pastor arrested during protest: ‘My purpose was to be able to maintain peace’

Dr. Delaine Smith speaks in a Facebook Live video recorded Wednesday afternoon in front of the Duval County Courthouse.
Dr. Delaine Smith speaks in a Facebook Live video recorded Wednesday afternoon in front of the Duval County Courthouse. (Facebook Live)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A pastor spoke out Wednesday in front of the Duval County Courthouse about her arrest Sunday during a protest in downtown Jacksonville.

Dr. Delaine Smith was one of the dozens of protesters who gathered in front of the Duval County Courthouse to call for the end of police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Smith recorded herself on Facebook Live for more than an hour during Sunday’s protest and captured her eventual arrest at the hands of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

“Those of you who did see the video, I want you to be able to understand my main purpose was to be able to maintain peace,” Smith said in another Facebook Live recorded Wednesday afternoon outside the courthouse. “How I was treated and handled, I don’t believe in my heart, that anyone who was trying to maintain peace should have been arrested.”

Dr. Delaine Smith going Live at 1 pm at the court house. My experience with my Atty. Dexter Davis, PE Elizabeth E Yates Representative Kimberly Daniels Lady Brenda Andres Postell

Posted by Delaine Smith on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

On Sunday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said, protesters at the courthouse started marching, and people were dropped off to join them. Williams said the crowd became confrontational and things were being thrown. He said JSO did not want a repeat of Saturday night, when a protest turned violent, so it started telling the protesters to disperse.

“We were called thugs because we were protesting,” Smith said.

The sheriff said 53 people were arrested Sunday, 39 of whom were from Duval County. According to records, Smith, 56, was booked into jail at 8:25 p.m. Sunday on a charge of unlawful assembly.

When Smith spoke Wednesday after her release from jail, she sent a message to those who aren’t from Duval County.

“For those people who are trying to make a trip to come to Jacksonville, stay home. You don’t live in Jacksonville, stay home. We don’t want your protest here,” Smith said. “What happened to George Floyd is uncalled for. I believe in my heart that’s murder. But I’m going to allow them to bring justice, you hear me. You know why? I believe in justice because I have peace.”

During the Facebook Live that Smith recorded Sunday, she can be seen trying to call for peace and tells multiple protesters to go home.

“There will be justice, and you’re going to have peace. We will not destroy this city,” Smith says in the video. “Go home, baby. You did good.”

As JSO officers surround the protesters and call for them to disperse, Smith begins to tell the protesters to leave and stay on the sidewalk.

“I am not bailing you out today. They are looking for a reason,” she says. “I need you to go and come back another day.”

She then can be seen asking an officer why the peaceful protest is considered an unlawful assembly.

“This is unlawful assembly. This is your last warning,” an officer responds.

A short time later JSO officers can then be seen detaining a protester as Smith says, “Sir, I got them. They leaving.”

An officer then turns to Smith.

“Ma’am put your hands behind your back. You’ve had your chance. We can only push so much,” the officer says as the cellphone continues to record.

Smith can then be heard saying, “Did you not see me get rid of 200 people off the steps of the courthouse?”

The sound of zip ties tightening can be heard as she is detained and her phone is placed in her bag.

Smith’s attorney, Dexter Davis, said Wednesday he believes a mistake was made somewhere.

“Lack of judgment? I’m not sure, but I mistake was made, especially arresting her and others who were protesting peacefully," he said.