Jacksonville police ready to keep fans, peaceful protesters safe this weekend

Events come as fake texts claim white nationalist groups are planning violence against minorities

Events come as fake texts claim white nationalist groups are planning violence against minorities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s going to be a busy weekend in Jacksonville for those hoping to enjoy some fun sporting events downtown and for those with a more serious agenda.

A peaceful rally is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at City Hall -- just 30 minutes before kickoff of the annual Georgia-Florida game at TIAA Bank Field. Then the Jags play a home game Sunday against the Texans at 1 p.m.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is preparing for the events to keep everyone safe, and police are also monitoring any potential unrest surrounding the election results.

RELATED: Gainesville police say false threat against black churches circulating

All this comes as people in Jacksonville and around the country, including News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, have been getting text messages that appear to be from the NAACP, saying white nationalist groups plan to harm Black men and boys as part of an initiation ritual.

The NAACP said the text is NOT true and did NOT come from their organization.

“While the NAACP takes all matters of racial discrimination, racial hatred, and domestic terrorism very seriously, we thought it was important enough to let you know in this moment those claims are false,” Trovon Williams, vice president of marketing and communications for the NAACP, said in a video posted to Twitter.

Jefferson said people should be hesitant to believe things, especially in a random text message, but they should also be aware.

“Just be prepared. Always be cognitive of fact that anything could happen, but I don’t think there is anything to be alarmed about,” Jefferson said. “I am happy to see that the NAACP came out and refuted that text and denied its existence as far as it coming from them.”

The peaceful rally planned for City Hall on Saturday afternoon involves the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition and the New Florida Majority.

Those coming for any of the sporting events this weekend are encouraged to still come early, despite smaller crowds due to COVID-19 and stadium capacity limits. Traffic delays are still expected.

“JSO can control traffic a little bit better because there will be less people,” Jefferson said.

The Sheriff’s Office said it plans weeks if not months ahead for Georgia-Florida and Jaguars games.

To maintain safety and security, JSO will no share details about potential red flags but said they are watching at all times to make sure everyone is safe.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.