JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly one week after a gunman killed three Black people in New Town, National civil rights leader Al Sharpton, the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and the Anti-Defamation League announced plans Monday to bring a hate crime summit to Jacksonville.
“It’s time for number two and we want to do it in Jacksonville, Florida,” Sharpton said.
The shooting is continuing to gain national attention as the Department of Justice is investigating it as a hate crime.
Every Friday, Wells Todd, Take Em Down Jax spokesperson, and about a dozen others picket to protest against Confederate monuments in Jacksonville. Todd said he’s seen his share of racism against his own family, his biracial son and in the city and welcomes the summit but also wants socio-economic issues like affordable housing, homelessness, education challenges, women and LGBTQ+ issues are addressed as well.
“I think it’s good as long as the people of Jacksonville are focused and they get a voice in this,” Todd said. “I think it has to be connected: the summit, racial hate crimes, Gov. DeSantis.”
Todd believes DeSantis has contributed negatively to the racial issues in Florida in public schools.
“What [DeSantis] is doing is continuing this racial divide,” Todd said. “You can’t tell people they can’t teach history, the truth.”
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan commented on the idea of the summit as it is still in the beginning stages.
“I know there are all sorts of conversations happening around the country already and I know there are a lot of community conversations that are happening. As far as this one, I haven’t heard any details on that either, but I think conversation is always a positive thing,” Deegan said.
Todd hopes the summit makes progress beyond the developing stages and actually happens in the city.
We reached out to the governor’s office for comment but did not immediately here back.
Take Em Down Jax will host a movie documentary series on racial issues on the Sept. 28 at the Jessie duPont Center.