Judner Fiacre’s face was plastered on television and social media along with dozens of other protesters after his arrest in May 2020.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Black Lives Matter protests in Jacksonville last summer ended with dozens of arrests, many peaceful protesters. Months later, one of those arrested speaks out after an agreement with the city.
Judner Fiacre, a Jacksonville photographer and father, had traveled to various cities to document protests following the death of George Floyd.
“I wanted the world to see what was going on. I wanted the world to see that we stand up with them,” he said.
When protests began in Jacksonville on May 30, Fiacre began taking photos and streaming them live on social media.
The first day of the protest began with a large, peaceful protest against the Jacksonville sheriff’s office, but it turned into chaos later that day, culminating in destroyed shops and an injured officer.
But Sunday, May 31st, was a much quieter scene.
“I felt like I had to be out here because of my kids,” said Fiacre, standing on the lawn of the Duval County courthouse, where the protest began and ended that day.
A small group of protesters reached the steps of the courthouse on Sunday morning, an area where they had to demonstrate for a few hours as the group climbed to a few hundred.
Eventually the group began marching into the street before returning to the sidewalks and heading back to the courthouse. A later march would result in a confrontation with the police as the group tried to cross the Main Street Bridge.
When the demonstrators peacefully arrived at the courthouse, police dressed in tactical gear entered to disperse the crowd.
“They basically circled us. So we couldn’t really run when we wanted to. A few people got away but they packed so many,” said Fiacre. “I’ve seen people slapped in the face, picked up, and hit on the floor. It didn’t have to be that extreme.”
First Coast News reporters watched as police circled the group, blocking most of the exit routes, with the exception of those lining the front of the building. Dozens of arrests were made as police cars and buses arrived to transport protesters.
Fiacre, who had streamed live on Facebook, was walking east and away from the area on Adams Street when he was arrested.
“They basically put me in a circle and just jumped on me, beat me up and almost broke my camera and arrested me,” he said.
Protesters who managed to get out of the area were seen wiping their eyes and reporting on the use of pepper spray.
Fiacre said he and the others were taken to a field where they were held in vehicles for hours.
“They didn’t let us go to the bathroom. I saw children go to the bathroom alone next to me. They didn’t feed us any water or food,” he said. “It was a nightmare.”
And while his court appearance was Monday morning and he said his bond was issued the same day, Fiacre added that he wasn’t released from prison until Tuesday evening.
Ultimately, prosecutors refused to prosecute a majority of the protesters arrested on Sunday. A federal lawsuit would later be filed against the city and the sheriff’s office, which would eventually pay JSO $ 100,000 to settle it while agreeing to change how it would handle future protests.
Fiacre has just received its portion of a settlement that stems from his arrest.
“What I went through that day, no amount of money can make this go away,” he said. “The picture that is in my head will be there forever.”
While Fiakeres’s attorney refused to speak on camera, he said his client was beaten during the arrest and that any litigation has centered on a false arrest lawsuit.
Fiacre said he has no regrets attending the protest and would make the same choice again.
“I just can’t wait for that day to wake up and see love in town. [when] I can see love in this land because that’s what we need, “he said.