More than 70 arrested, at least 5 officers injured in riot over the weekend following protests in Jacksonville

Sheriff: More than 70 arrested, at least 5 officers injured in riot over the weekend after protests in JacksonvilleNews Sports Entertainment Lifestyle Opinion USA TODAY Obituaries E-Edition Legals

Teresa Stepzinski

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Jacksonville Police arrested more than 70 people and confiscated homemade fire bombs, a coarse hatchet and a loaded handgun from protesters when violence broke out in downtown after a series of peaceful protests last weekend, injuring at least five officers.
Sheriff Mike Williams detailed the destruction and discussed the agency’s body camera policy during a press conference Tuesday with Mayor Lenny Curry and Major Steve Harris of Florida Highway Patrol.
Curry said “a small group of bad actors resorted to violence, vandalism and threats to public health and safety”.
ā€œIn another example, that this threat is still with us, this morning at 4 a.m. [Tuesday] an incendiary bomb was thrown in our fleet management yard, ā€said Curry.
No casualties were reported in the arson attack. No city vehicles were damaged and there was minimal damage to the property. The Jacksonville Fire Department responded quickly and put out the fire, Curry said.
Curry said the incident shows he is willing to issue emergency statements or curfews in order to respond to such action if necessary.
“We will not condone this type of violence in Jacksonville, Florida,” Curry said, adding that the city will use the resources at its disposal to protect the city.
Williams said four officers were injured during the riot on Saturday night, including one who was slit in the neck with an unknown object.
ā€œTwo others were hit with bricks, one was hit with a branch or rubble. The next day, more officers had us report injuries. All of these officials are recovering and will be fine, ā€Williams said.
An official was injured on Sunday, said Williams, who unspecified the injury.
Williams said 25 people, including 23 Duval County residents, were arrested on Saturday while another 53, including 39 from Duval, were arrested on Sunday.
Her charges included charging a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest by force, breaking the peace, illegal gathering and attempting to make an explosive device amid the riots in the city center, he said.
Williams said the majority of those arrested outside of Jacksonville were from Florida.
Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the backgrounds of all those arrested, he said.
Half a dozen vehicles in the sheriff’s office were damaged, including the police car of the slashed officer. This car suffered the most damage, said Williams.
A Jacksonville Fire Department vehicle was also damaged. In addition, windows were smashed or sprayed at several shops in the city center, he said.
On Sunday, after a peaceful demonstration at the Duval County Courthouse, a group of protesters marched through downtown blocking traffic in the middle of the street, tried multiple times to block the Main Street Bridge and ran towards innocent motorists’ cars, Williamss said .
“We threw bottles again on Sunday,” said Williams.
Williams said police had seized several homemade, makeshift weapons.
These included a Molotov cocktail, gasoline balloon bombs, and an ax made from a crowbar and a loaded handgun, Williams said.
“All of these were recovered on Sunday,” he said.
These incidents followed Saturday’s Caravan for Justice – a peaceful protest against police brutality that Williams estimated drew more than 3,000 people.
Curry praised the peaceful attitude of the majority of the demonstrators on Saturday.
“They followed a proud American tradition and raised their voices loud and clear,” said Curry.
Williams said JSO estimated that around 400 of the protesters stayed on Saturday night.
He said that most of this group remained peaceful, but there were several cases of stones and bottles being thrown during the evening.
A small but peaceful demonstration took place outside the Duval County courthouse on Sunday morning.
Williams said some protesters were dropped off later that day. He said some of them constituted an “influence” that wanted to escalate tensions.
“No busloads of outside people,” said Williams, “but it doesn’t take two or three.”
Williams said an arrest was made during Monday’s much smaller protest.
No further protests are expected in the city, he said.
Williams said on Sunday some members of the group started blocking traffic, throwing bottles and trying to block the Main Street Bridge.
He said the police issued “several disbandment orders” before she was arrested.
“Our stance was not to allow incremental steps towards an insurrection,” said Williams.
At the time, Williams said, authorities were imposing a curfew on Jacksonville from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday morning.
This curfew was not extended any further.
The large peaceful demonstration on Saturday centered on both local and nationwide police violence. Protesters called for greater accountability and transparency from the sheriff’s office.
They also called for the immediate release of body camera footage of shootings in which officials were involved.
Williams said there was “active talk” about body camera policy but made no commitment to post body camera videos at several high profile shootings by black residents.
“These events [last] Weekends are not about taking pictures with body cameras. Violence is breaking out in 70 cities across the country and it’s not because of Jacksonville’s body camera policy, ā€Williams said.
Williams said, “We post body camera footage every day,” but the more complicated cases are being reviewed by prosecutors.
“The criminal investigations into police officers following an official shooting, which is primarily the focus of these talks, are where the footage has not yet been released,” Williams said.
Williams said the first shooting at the sheriff’s office recorded with a body camera occurred in 2019.
ā€œWe will have our response to the Resistance Panel next week and depending on the outcome of it, as long as there is no lengthy internal investigation and we don’t expect it, it will be the first body camera material we make released because it is publicly known Will be, “said Williams.
Recent police shootings, including the death of Jamee Christopher Deonte Johnson, are still under prosecution scrutiny, and so the body camera footage is not yet public and has yet to be released, Williams said.
Johnson, who would have turned 23 on Monday, was shot dead on Buckman Street on December 14, 2019. during a traffic stop for a seat belt injury.
His mother, Kimberly Austin, has repeatedly requested that the sheriff’s office release body camera footage of the shooting. But she said the sheriff’s office refused.
Williams also read out a statement that he said was originally released internally at the sheriff’s office.
He condemned the actions of a group of four Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
A Minnesota official was charged with murder after a video showed him pressing his knee on the back of the neck of Floyd – who was unarmed, handcuffed and shouting that he could not breathe – for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Protests across the country followed, including not just the Floyd case, but several other police-involved shootings of black Americans.
ā€œThis is not a training problem. It’s not a mistake, ā€said Williams. “It’s just a murder.”
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075
Clayton Freeman: (904) 359-4552

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