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MN Anti-War Committee statement in solidarity with the #Jax5

By staff |
April 16, 2017
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Fight Back News Service is circulating the following April 17 statement from the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee.

The Minnesota Anti-War Committee stands in solidarity with the Jacksonville 5 who were brutally arrested on April 7 protesting President Trump’s escalation in the U.S. war on Syria. We stand with Connell Crooms, Willie Wilder, Christina Kittle, Tom Beckwith, and Dave Schneider, and call on the State Attorney in Florida to drop the charges against all five. Protesters were charged with multiple felonies, including inciting a riot. In fact, these five were the victims of a police riot.

Countless videos show police arresting and assaulting speakers and organizers of the protest at Hemming Park in Jacksonville.

Connell Crooms is a deaf Black man who is a well-known union activist and Black Lives Matter leader in Jacksonville. He was assaulted by a right-wing counter-protester and then savagely beaten, kicked and tasered by police. Crooms was beaten until he was unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. The police also beat and arrested a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran, Willie Wilder; leader of the Jacksonville Coalition for Consent, Christina Kittle; and transgender activist, Tom Beckwith. Lastly, according to police, “The decision was made to detain the organizer of the protest.” Dave Schneider was charged with “felony inciting a riot” for his leading role in the protest.

Even before the events of April 7, police had been spying on activists in Jacksonville. The Florida Times-Union reported that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) has monitored protesters on the internet and has conducted video surveillance at protests.

We denounce all of these shameful attempts to stifle dissent. Actions around the globe by the Trump administration is inspiring a growing anti-war movement here at home. Troop deployments to Iraq, Syria and Somalia; airstrikes in Syria; the mega-bomb dropped on Afghanistan; and new threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We need a movement ready to respond to all of these, and whatever comes next. The criminalization and brutalizing of protesters in Jacksonville is an issue of concern to every anti-war activist in the country.

We join with voices across the country to demand that the Florida State Attorney drop all charges against the Jacksonville 5. We also support Jacksonville activists call for prosecution of JSO for brutality; investigation into JSO misconduct and times to white supremacist groups/individuals; and a full investigation of surveillance and spying on community organizers and leaders.

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