Photos: Once peaceful protest, Jacksonville anti-police brutality demonstration turns chaotic
Chaos erupts on Newnan Street in Jacksonville as police deploy multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters demonstrating against excessive force by police. Photo by Drew Dixon.

Tear gas and flash bangs were used to disperse protesters.

What was a peaceful protest for some four hours quickly turned violent in clashes between demonstrators and Jacksonville police Saturday afternoon and into the evening.

About 3,000 demonstrators Marched through downtown Jacksonville streets beginning at 3 p.m. Organizers were pleased the event showed no signs of confrontation between protesters and Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers. The demonstration was called in part due to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week, which touched off violent protests in multiple cities.

In Jacksonville between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., the seemingly festive atmosphere turned ominous when several dozen JSO officers in full riot gear had a standoff with demonstrators at Newnan and Bay streets. Two armored police vehicles also responded to the scene.

When police tried to apprehend one protester, crowds started to throw water bottles and cups at the officers. Police deployed “flash bangs” multiple times. Flashbangs are loud explosive devices designed to disperse crowds.

The chaos initially lulled protesters. Then police formed a line and marched shoulder to shoulder north on Newnan Street to Forsyth Street near the Florida Theatre, where a cagey standoff ensued for almost an hour. Some protesters staged a brief sit-in at Forsyth and Newnan streets. Then police launched several flashbangs and ultimately turned to fire tear gas canisters.

The flashpoint: Bay and Newnan streets in Jacksonville is where police started deploying “flash bangs” and tear gas while trying to apprehend a protester. Photo by Drew Dixon.
As police in riot gear started to sweep through Newnan Street, several protesters staged a brief sit-in at the intersection of Forsyth Street near the Florida Theatre. It was quickly cleared by police who deployed tear gas. Image via Drew Dixon.
Dozens of police responded to Newnan Street in full riot gear and armor and began sweeping the streets of protesters following violent clashes. Image via Drew Dixon.
Chaos erupts on Newnan Street in Jacksonville as police deploy multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters demonstrating against the excessive use of police force. Image via Drew Dixon.

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 11:16 pm

    Whatever little credibility and I mean “little” that Ben Frazier and the Northside Coalition had, is gone gone gone. Ben Frazier’s protest turns violent. No one on the City Council will ever listen to anything they ever say again. Its over Ben, your people showed their true colors tonight, Violence is the only thing yall know.

  • Neil Houpt

    May 30, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Fuck the Police. They are murders and constitute the largest street gang in Jax.

  • Nick Whitehead

    May 30, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    I am a 54 y/o white male from a Florida hick town and a lifelong Republican. The police have totally lost my support. As I watch the videos 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 mythic “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 12:53 pm

      Fake News, I dont know what you have been watching Nick so called white male.. The protesters, both white and black and animals. America is against them, we want law and order. This only helps President Trump, who will maintain law and order. Isnt it strange, the vast majority of the cites with the most damage from protesters are liberal run cities,, mmmmmm Like is said , Ben Frazier the head of the Northside Coalition has lost all credibility now,, no one will listen to anything he has to say,, he was in charge, and violence is how they acted, bye bye bye Ben

      • Nick W

        May 31, 2020 at 4:43 pm

        Reb so dumb. Almost all cities are liberal run cities. Since President ‘Grab ’em by the Pussy’ destroyed the Republican Party the only conservative run places left in America are rural areas and a few small towns. Who is going to hold a protest in BFE with no one around? Your moron Trump doesn’t have time to maintain law and order, he is too busy engaging in tweeter feuds and robbing the US Treasury.

Comments are closed.


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