Peaceful protest against Jacksonville police turns violent
About 3,000 people protesting police brutality turned out for a demonstration in front of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Saturday, May 30. Photo by Drew Dixon.

Smoke bombs and a scuffle with police turned the protest violent.

What was a peaceful protest in downtown Jacksonville Saturday turned violent in the late evening as armored police clashed with protesters over the backdrop of smoke bombs.

People were injured after police attempted to apprehend a protester, setting off tensions already heightened in the protest against excessive force by police in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week.

About 3,000 people descended on downtown to peacefully protest, but a clash with some of the 60 fully-equipped police officers backed by two armored vehicles near the intersection of Bay Street and Newnan Street escalated. Multiple people were injured.

The demonstration started outside the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) headquarters on Bay Street with the throng of protesters ascending the two flights of steps near the entrance to the police building.

“No justice, no peace. No racist police,” the crowd shouted in unison.

Then the demonstration proceeded to wind through what eventually would amount to miles of streets in downtown Jacksonville, snarling traffic and chants from the crowd echoing off the buildings in the urban core. The demonstration started at 3 p.m. and was supposed to last until 4:30 p.m. but it proceeded into the evening with protesters still walking streets past 6 p.m. until it turned violent around 7 p.m.

One of the protesters, Brennan Reed, said he’s fed up with repeated incidents of black residents ending up dead in encounters with police.

“We’re here mainly for justice, equality and police accountability,” Reed said. “Anyone who disagrees with that, it just boggles my mind.”

One police officer was charged Friday with third degree murder in Floyd’s death. But protesters in Minneapolis and across the country have called for the other responding officers to be charged for their role in the events leading to Floyd’s death.

Early on in the demonstration in Jacksonville, a small airplane circled above the protest area towing a sign that said, “Stay safe, always film the police.”

Jacksonville Community Action Committee orchestrated the protest. One of the group’s organizers, Monique Sampson, said they planned a nonviolent event and didn’t intend to repeat outcomes from many demonstrations that turned physically confrontational Friday in cities across the country.

Sampson said organizers only expected 500 people and when the demonstration swelled to many times that size, she was pleasantly surprised.

“This was great,” Sampson said while marching through downtown streets, before any violence.

Another organizer with the group, Hakeem Balogun, said he also was surprised the size of the demonstration was larger than anticipated. He said while George Floyd’s video-recorded death was a flashpoint for the demonstration in Jacksonville, there were many local issues that galvanized the local crowd.

Organizers also demanded more information on the police shooting death of Jamee Johnson who was killed by a JSO officer Dec. 14 during a traffic stop.

The police body camera images of the shooting have not been released. JSO officials claim Johnson was resisting arrest. The 22-year-old was a Florida A&M University student.

JSO officials maintain patrol car dashboard video is not available and the body cam became dislodged during the incident.

Saturday’s protest in Jacksonville drew a racially diverse group of demonstrators.

Protester Arden Phipps said it shouldn’t be surprising to see demonstrators of all races.

“It’s police brutality. It affects everybody. It’s everybody’s problem,” Phipps said.

JSO officers were largely spectators with uniformed police out of sight other than standing on the side of the streets and some directing traffic.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected]


  • Reb

    May 30, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    Well, these protesters are not stupid, because JSO dont play that violence game.. If there would have been any looting or destruction of property, they would have arrested and subdued very quickly. like I said JSO dont play and I glad about that

  • Gwen

    May 30, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    There is no moderate wing of the Democrat party people. If you vote for Joe Biden, you are voting for Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren’s far left platform.. Joe will follow the radical left’s agenda or Joe won’t get the support and he is…. of Val Demings, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Valerie Jarrett,. Rashida Talib, Stacy Abrams, Ayanna Pressley, Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tom Perez, Maxine Waters, Al Green, and llhan Omar. This is the core of the socialists leftist wing of the Democrat party in Washington and they are firmly in charge.

    Democrat Platform & Goals:
    (Democrat Taxpayers pay close attention, you’ll pay too)

    *End all deportations of illegal aliens, if you get here, you stay. Bernie’s website calls it a “moratorium” on deportations.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Citizenship for 20 to 50 million illegal aliens, DACA & TPS recipients with a cost of billions.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Massive tax increases. All Democrat candidates have committed to tax increases of various amounts.
    Democrats Yes tax increases.
    Republicans No tax increases.

    *De-fund & terminate border patrol & ICE.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Free Health Care for Illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients (taxpayer funded with one estimate at 52 trillion)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Ending of all private / employer based health care. “Medicare for all”, Feds run everything.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Illegal Aliens eligible for welfare & food stamps. (Elizabeth Warrens plan adopted)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No

    * Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Green new deal.(which would create massive unemployment, 100,000 jobs estimated in the transportation industry alone.)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Sanctuary Cities & States.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    * Border Security. (Democrats have fought against Border Security.
    Democrats No..
    Republicans Yes.

    *Free college for all, including illegal aliens (taxpayer funded estimates in the billions. Bernie plan adopted.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Decriminalization of illegal entry into our country.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Open Borders.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *DACA & TPS.
    Democrats Yes
    Republicans No.

    *Reparations for race’s harmed by Caucasians. Joe committed this to “Reverend” Al Sharpton, support for Sheila Jackson Lee’s racist reparations bill in the House.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Drivers licenses for illegal aliens.(already happening in states with Democrat leadership)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    *Late term abortions up to 9 months. (Blood for Votes.)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    Democrats want to make this election about Trump (personally) and rely on the MSM to fan the flames of hatred of the President to win. Its about the party platforms, your wallet and a future of your children & grand children in this country..

    • E. Freeman

      May 30, 2020 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you for your summary.  It seems a bit simplistic and jingoistic to be completely true, but who is perfect, right.  Now I usually vote Republican, but after reading your screed I am now certain, I’ll be voting straight Democrat in 2020.

  • Nick Whitehead

    May 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    I’m thankful that this protest against the daily murders of Americans by the police has apparently ended peacefully. I am a 54 y/o white male from a Florida hick town and a lifelong Republican. The police in America have completely lost my support. As I watch the video from protest across the country if is clear that all of the violence directed at human being has come from the police, not the protesters or the mystic “outside agitators”. The protesters have protected journalist, children and bystanders. I’ve witnessed the police beat protesters and bystanders and one officer shoot at a journalist and a cameraman with a long gun at short range. When the police start losing the support of old white Republicans you know they have lost their way. After all the primary purpose of law enforcement is to preserve powers in the hands of those who hold it.

    • Reb

      May 31, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      We are to smart Nick, we know who you are, and you are not white, you are fake fake news. the protesters are both white trash and black animals.. President is gaining strength because of your violence.. so keep on looting , please

      • Nick W.

        May 31, 2020 at 4:52 pm

        LMAO. Yep Reb, you are so smart that you don’t even know how to spell ‘too’. I am certainly a white man, born in 1965 in Jackson County, Florida. It is hilarious that some folk have taken to calling facts that they can’t dispute “fake news”. It is like hanging a big sign around your neck that reads “IDIOT’. Learn. Learn to think. And please, learn to spell.

  • Reb

    May 31, 2020 at 8:13 am

    I do not know what protest/riot you are talking about. A police officer’s throat was slashed, a police car burned, another had window broken, buildings windows destroyed, is that peaceful? Ben Frazier and the Northside Coalition are behind this. You go to the top and he is the one in charge. He is responsible for all this mayhem on Saturday in downtown Jacksonville. The city council will not even listen to his babbling anymore. Now they know how he operates, with violence.

    • 2Reb

      June 2, 2020 at 2:22 am

      The police set their own car on fire. Watch the actual videos, stop believing BS you read on conservative websites.

  • Sonja Fitch

    May 31, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    No one is above the law! IA found jso Mullens guilty and let him retire instead of locking him up. His career is a mish mash of racism and thinking “he” is judge and jury and acts of bullying and aggression is JUSTIFIED cause HE knows better than the law! Arrest JSO retired cop Mullens!

  • Hayzul

    May 31, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Way to leave out the part where two officers were beaten and one was stabbed in the neck. Oh and the attempted torching and a destruction of squad cars and local businesses.

    • 2Hazel

      June 2, 2020 at 2:24 am

      Way to believe whatever you hear. The officer scratched his neck. It wasn’t slashed, nor was it stabbed. It was scratched. Just like if you were trimming trees and scratched your neck. Same sh!t

  • Kaycee

    June 2, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    JSO is the most corrupt police department in Florida! FACTS

Comments are closed.


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