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Jacksonville activists demand police accountability at city council

By Fernando Figueroa |
July 26, 2017
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Members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) gathered
Members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) gathered to talk about community control of police (Fight Back! News/staff)

Jacksonville, FL - Almost two dozen members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) spoke at the city council meeting July 25 in favor of police accountability.

The newly launched JCAC is fighting for a Jacksonville Police Accountability Council (JPAC) designed to provide real community control of a currently out of control law enforcement agency. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) has committed numerous offenses against working-class Black people over the past few years. These police crimes include the murder of the unarmed Vernell Bing Jr. last year and the murder of unarmed Selwyn Hall earlier this year.

More recently, JSO made national headlines when Devonte Shipman and another Black man were stopped by JSO officer J. S. Bolen for crossing the street. Bolen harassed and racially profiled Shipman, asking him about weapons and drugs, but he knew his rights. Shipman was issued two tickets by the corrupt officer, one for jaywalking and another for driving with a suspended license, even though he was clearly walking and not driving. Due to public pressure, JSO dropped the suspended license ticket.

It's clear that Jacksonville, like many other cities in the U.S., needs a mechanism for police accountability. The JCAC vowed to continue fighting for community control of the police as a step forward in the fight against racism and national oppression.

JCAC organizer Joshua Parks said, "We need JPAC because historically, the police have never been held accountable to Black, brown and poor communities. The only way to gain accountability is to empower our communities to gain control over the institutions that they pay for with taxes and affect their lives."