JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville elected officials took part in a demonstration Sunday outside City Hall and then a walk.
Despite the heavy rain, about 100 people gathered beneath the awning at City Hall to unite as one. After the demonstration, the group took to the streets to spread its message of unity and change.
“We are going to change the culture (of) Jacksonville,” said Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci.
Despite the rain, a crowd gathered under the awning at @CityofJax City Hall for a bi-partisan demonstration. Organized by councilman @GarrettDennis_1; several elected local officials, school board members and @NikkiFriedFL/@nikkifried participated. A walk took place after. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/ElWBw2Q4Ke— Zachery Lashway (@ZachLashway) June 7, 2020
The bipartisan gathering to show solidarity was organized by City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
“What you saw today was, you had Republicans, Democrats, whites, blacks, young, old all here. Elected officials saying, ‘Listen, we are one.’ It’s going to take all of us together to move the needle and make a change," Dennis said. “It was powerful today.”
The gathering attracted elected officials from both parties, Duval County School Board members and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, who is the only Democrat statewide elected official in Florida.
“It’s so important for us to be here today because we have to be unified,” Fried said. “This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is really a human issue."
Her message to the people of Jacksonville and the people of Florida who are taking the streets: “Keep having your voices heard. Your voices have to stay loud.”
Those voices at the gathering paused for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that video shows a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. That video, in which Floyd can be repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe,” before he died, provoked nationwide protests.
Dennis invited Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams to Sunday’s demonstration. Both Williams and Curry said Thursday they would participate “in the near future” but added that Sunday isn’t the time. Curry then tweeted Friday: “I will participate in a walk next week with our community.”
A few blocks away from City Hall, people still showed up Sunday in front of the Duval County Courthouse for a demonstration, even though it was canceled.
“I am making history today. I can tell my kids, ‘I did this for y’all.’ That’s what I am here for, so my children don’t have to,” said Brunswick resident Montana Jackson.
Jacksonville resident Dawn Francine also showed up for her child.
“I have a black son and I am here for him,” Francis said. “I just want the world to be better for him.”