GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A Green Cove Springs man is fighting back against the police department and the city.
Mark Morgan told News4Jax the Green Cove Springs Police Department portrayed him as racist after a recent arrest. Morgan said he’s being discriminated against because of his politics, but locals said he is a menace to local fishermen.
According to police, Morgan is accused of getting intoxicated in his boat and throwing racial slurs around at the multiple people who were fishing off the pier at Spring Park.
GCSPD posted about his arrest on Facebook this weekend: “For all of our citizens and visitors who may have had to endure hearing Mr. Mark Morgan screaming obscenities and racial slurs while in his boat off of the City pier, rest assure as he was arrested.”
According to Morgan, he was having a conversation with another fisherman and started talking about how he supports Donald Trump in 2024. He then started expressing strong views on immigration and said that upset other fishermen who reported him to police. Morgan denied saying anything racist.
“I am the last person that’s a racist. I have several Black friends,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he’s now been unfairly banned from the dock and city parks.
Brian Coleman disagrees.
Coleman said he’s the fisherman who was in that initial conversation. He said Morgan was becoming a nuisance and saying negative things particularly targeted toward Hispanic fishermen and families.
Earlier this year he was accused of boating under the influence after he allegedly tried to swim away from police to avoid a blood alcohol test, Clay Today reported.
“When he’s drinking he gets kind of belligerent and he’ll go from what I call zero to 100. And he’s been known to use racial slurs and call folks names,” Coleman said.
Last month, the Green Cove Springs Police Department received reports that Morgan, who is white, was riding around in a small boat near the pier and yelling racial slurs at Black citizens.
According to an arrest report, the 53-year-old was yelling “f****** n******” at Black citizens from his boat over a three-day span in August while families and small children were around.
Morgan caused such outrage with people who heard about it that some even talked about bringing guns to the pier located at Spring Park to shoot at his boat, police said.
After a warrant was issued for Morgan’s arrest earlier this month, he was arrested on Saturday morning. He now faces two misdemeanor charges — one for trespassing on the pier after he was issued a warning and one for breach of peace/disorderly conduct.
For now, Morgan, who lives on a boat docked just off the pier, said he’s still working his way through the court system and plans to fight both city hall and the police over the accusation that he’s a racist that locals need to be protected from.
A legal analyst told News4Jax his case will hinge on whether or not police can prove he was using what’s called “Fighting Words” or language that could be used to incite harm against someone. Morgan will likely try to argue he was only making political statements and has protections under the First Amendment.
Green Cove Springs Police Department Commander Shawn Hines issued a statement to News4Jax:
”The City of Green Cove Springs can confirm that Mr. Morgan was trespassed from the City Pier after he was arrested on the pier for creating a disturbance and boating under the influence while docked at the pier. Due to his criminal activity at that location he was trespassed for a one year period of time in accordance with our policy. Mr. Morgan was subsequently trespassed from Spring Park and the kayak dock, which is City owned, after four days of consistent racial heckling of citizens on the pier, including minorities, children and families. Due to Mr. Morgan using the kayak dock and Spring Park as the ingress/egress point to his moored vessel off shore, the City trespassed him from these locations due to his ongoing criminal activity originating from City Property. The Green Cove Springs City Attorney has reviewed our trespass process/procedure and finds that the City is in compliance with applicable law and in line with what other jurisdictions in the State of Florida utilize for trespass procedures on public property.”
Morgan later issued a response to the department’s statement:
“There must be an appeals process and there is no such process. This city is violating constitutional rights 1st and 14th. No due process. No say. No legal definitions to how I’m a danger to society to warrant public shaming and park bannings.”