Some of the area’s most recognizable pastors came together with demands for Jacksonville’s elected officials in wake of the killing of George Floyd, whose death while in the custody of the Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests.
About two dozen African-American pastors from a number of churches at the Duval County Courthouse on Monday morning to announce a three-page letter they’ve sent to the sheriff, mayor, state attorney and city council.
Among their demands:
- Police to release body camera footage within days of an incident.
- More diversity and cultural training for Jacksonville police.
- Creation of a citizens review board made up of people in the community to push for accountability between JSO and residents.
“A Citizens Review Board should be established in an effort to foster respect, transparency, trust, and accountability between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the community,” said Dr. Mark Griffin, senior pastor of Wayman Temple AME Church. “This review board would be responsible for providing oversight of investigations of complaints made against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The board’s composition should be demographically and geographically diverse, and should be independent from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and city government.”
DOCUMENT: Pastor’s letter to city leaders
They also said they want an open conversation with leaders, which they say they haven’t gotten.
“We know that, eventually, the protests will stop, and the media will move on to the next story,” Griffin added. “But we will not stop, and we will not move on. In addition to the above matters that relate to policing in our city, there are many other matters that must be addressed if we are serious about ending racism and discrimination in our city.”
Some activists at the news conference said they were not happy with the response from Jacksonville’s elected leaders.
“I have frustrations because the city continues to make the same mistakes that brought us here in the first place,” said Ben Frazier, of the Northside Coalition. “And that is the lack of ineffective community engagement. We bring thousands to demand a conversation and dialog with the power that be. And they continue to ignore us. They talk at us and not with us.”
Pastors said they hope leaders talk to them and not at them. They reaffirmed that meeting Monday is just the beginning of a push they won’t back down from.