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Jacksonville holds drive-in protest, demands People’s Budget and community control of the police

By Monica Gold |
July 20, 2020
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Jacksonville protest demands community control of police.
Jacksonville protest demands community control of police. Jacksonville protest demands community control of police.

Jacksonville, FL -- On Saturday July 18, the Jacksonville Community Action Committee organized a drive-in protest to demand a People’s Budget, a Jacksonville Police Accountability Council (JPAC) and an end to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR). Protesters were joined by the families of Jamee Johnson, Kwame Jones and Leah Baker; all of whom were killed by Jacksonville Sheriff Office (JSO) cops.

Organizers took a unique approach to the National Day of Action called by the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, in an effort to ensure the safety of protesters in the midst of COVID-19 spikes. Close to 200 vehicles filled the grass lot across from the Jacksonville Sheriff Office Memorial Building to hear the rally, with many on foot outside of their vehicles.

The Jacksonville Community Action Committee is calling for a “People’s Budget” prioritizes massive public investment in the people, not the police. Earlier in the week, the group announced their People’s Budget, in opposition to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s budget proposal which still sought to give almost half a billion dollars to JSO. Their People’s Budget called for a large reallocation of city spending to creating living wage, union jobs through the department of public works, large investments in the Black community including public transportation and other social safety net programs and as well, a large investment in mental health services of Jacksonville’s citizens.

On Saturday, Leah Baker’s mother spoke about Leah’s struggles with accessible mental healthcare. Leah was shot and killed by multiple JSO officers after calling for help, fearing that she may be a danger to herself, not others.

Protesters chanted, “Money for schools, not police, money for healthcare, not police!” and “What do we want? JPAC. When do we want it? Now!”

Calls for a Jacksonville Police Accountability Council continued throughout the rally, with speakers like Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville calling for community control of the police in Jacksonville.

“Police accountability through a JPAC would ensure that killer cops are not roaming the streets with continued impunity,” said Kiara Joyner of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee and a co-emcee of the rally. “The JSO officers that killed Jamee Johnson, Kwame Jones and Leah Baker would be indicted for their crimes. However, in the current system, these officers are treated as if they are ‘above the law,’ and in some ways they are due to LEOBOR, the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights which gives killer cops and extra layer of due process, which is why that law must be repealed.”

Saturday’s action demonstrated that Jacksonville protesters are not growing weary, and they will not stop until their demands are met. Follow more on the Jacksonville Community Action Committee at https://jaxtakesaction.org.

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