JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the third weekend in a row, hundreds of people crowded Downtown Jacksonville outside the Duval County Courthouse on Saturday afternoon.
The Jacksonville Community Action Committee, Northside Coalition and local racial justice groups hosted the rally and march. The continuing call to action was for more police transparency and accountability.
Speakers called for the release of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office body camera footage and for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into officer-involved shootings.
Despite outcry, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has still never released body-camera footage from an officer-involved shooting.
Reginald Boston, Yvonno Kemp’s son, was shot to death in January by a Jacksonville officer.
“We don’t know what happened to Reginald. We don’t know how many times Reginald got shot. They won’t release no autopsies, no police reports," Kemp said.
Boston was killed, another person was shot and a third person was arrested after an undercover investigation of an armed robbery of a cellphone.
At Saturday’s rally, Kemp said she stands with other mothers who have lost their sons in officer-involved shootings.
“It’s time for them to be held accountable for what they’re doing to our babies,” Kemp said.
“Release the footage” was a rallying cry Saturday as demonstrators recited the names of other black men killed in police-involved shootings.
Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition, also introduced a new call to action Saturday afternoon. The Northside Coalition called for racial justice activists and demonstrators from across the U.S. to come down to the River City to join in on protesting the Republican National Convention now to be held in Jacksonville.
“We formally invite all organizations, activists to stand up for truth and justice anywhere in the world and in the United States of America. We invite you now to come right on down here to Jacksonville, Florida,” Frazier said.
The RNC will take place in Jacksonville the same week as Ax Handle Saturday, a racially motivated attack that took place in Hemming Park in 1960. President Trump will make his acceptance speech in Jacksonville on the sixtieth anniversary of the violent attack.
“With the republican invasion imminent the sixtieth commemoration of that glorious and noble civil rights event about to occur at the same time, Ax Handle Saturday now becomes our new focal point and our rallying cry,” Frazier said.
Like previous weekends JSO had downtown streets around the courthouse and City Hall blocked off. It appeared there were no hostile interactions between marchers and police, and the afternoon was very peaceful.
The march and rally lasted for about two and a half hours. By 5:30 p.m. everyone was gone and JSO reopened the streets.