Almost 48 hours after Mayor Lenny Curry issued a one-night-only curfew for Jacksonville, he discussed the civil emergency Tuesday with the City Council.
Curry imposed the curfew late Sunday afternoon, in an attempt to thin the ranks of protesters moving through Downtown and the Springfield neighborhood before nightfall.
Curry alluded to “unusual and historic times around the world and our city,” before discussing “demonstrations where concerned and frustrated citizens” peacefully protested before the marauders took over as the afternoon gre late.
Violence, vandalism, and “even attacks on police officers” followed Saturday, and threats of such Sunday drove Curry’s decision to declare civil emergency and enact the curfew.
“I will use all the resources that we have to protect our city,” Curry said, officially “rescinding” the state of emergency despite threats, such as a 4AM firebomb aimed at city fleet vehicles.
Emergency declarations and curfews would be brought back “should the need arise,” Curry said.
Responding to a question from a City Council member, Curry addressed the question of moving forward with Council.
“Contrary to some reports, I’ve had a number of very real conversations with people in the city about the broken promises of Consolidation,” Curry said, noting that Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson likewise are “open to, if there are initial voices that need to be heard … a meeting.”
Cautious Republican Councilman Al Ferraro wanted assurances that local lawmakers would be “safe” while meeting with constituents.
Councilman Garrett Dennis, a frequent Curry critic, proposed a “hand in hand” walk with the Mayor, Sheriff, and City Council to the Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m pretty sure those peaceful protesters will walk with us,” Democrat Dennis said. “Let’s walk the city of Jacksonville to let people know it’s safe.”
The Sheriff would not commit to the walk, despite a persistent pitch from Dennis comparing the symbolic stroll to the “March on Selma” half a century ago. The Mayor did not comment.
Republican Councilman Ron Salem urged the Council to take up the Charter Review Commission‘s recommendation for an Urban Services District, which he sees as a way to redress inequities. That seemed to have some momentum.
Democratic Councilwoman Brenda Priestly-Jackson noted a “history in Jacksonville” to “dilute” the political impact of African-American Council members, adding that “everybody’s lived experiences are not the same.”
Colleague Joyce Morgan backed her up, saying there were two Jacksonvilles, and that solidarity needed to be “proactive.”
“This is the right Council to deal with these issues in real time,” Morgan said.
That may or may not be true.
In 2017, after the violence in Charlottesville, a call to remove Confederate monuments burned hot until it was dampened.
Three years later, the monuments still stand. And so too do the issues they represent.
For Jacksonville politicians, speeches have been the easy part over the years.