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Dozens of police responded to Newnan Street in full riot gear and armor and began sweeping the streets of protesters following violent clashes. Photo by Drew Dixon.

Jax

Jacksonville Mayor, Sheriff address riots, aftermath

Antifa may have agitated, the Sheriff said.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams briefed media on Tuesday after days of protests rocked the city.

The Mayor and Sheriff had previously briefed the Jacksonville City Council, and convened for a formal press conference even as the Council was wrapping its meeting.

The Mayor noted the “small group of bad actors” that came out to vandalize, attack officers, and commit other acts of violence, as he largely reiterated remarks made the hour before.

“We will not stand for that kind of violence in Jacksonville,” Curry said.

The source of that violence is still being investigated, the Sheriff said.

“Our federal partners will be digging into the backgrounds of all the people involved in the protest,” Williams vowed, noting there was evident coordination consistent with antifa activities.

“Tactically … we can compare that to other cities and see a lot of similarities,” Williams said, noting “some type of influence” from outside groups.

Molotov Cocktails, gasoline-filled balloons, and other hallmarks of rioting were found Sunday, Williams added, leading his department to ask for the state of emergency and the curfew.

Williams offered a recap of the timeline, noting more than 3,000 people were downtown Saturday afternoon.

“After two hours,” Williams said, “the main peaceful part of the protest ended … of those remained, about 400 people continued to stay downtown during the day … and things began to happen.”

Traffic disruptions became “bricks, rocks, and bottles thrown” and “police officers being attacked.”

Four officers were injured Saturday night: One slashed with a blade, two hit with bricks, and another with a tree limb.

“All officers are recovering fine,” Williams said.

Sunday’s action saw a movement through the city, with more traffic disruptions, including trying to block the Main Street Bridge and other actions denoting a “more lawless group.”

“As Sunday progressed … our posture was not to allow incremental steps toward the rioting again,” Williams said, saying it was “no longer a peaceful assembly.”

“I think it really helped us on Sunday night,” Williams noted about the curfew, adding that “you can’t go from breaking the law to peaceful protest.”

Going forward, Williams urged local lawmakers to focus more on concrete actions, like improving infrastructure and other deficiencies in African-American neighborhoods, rather than focusing on symbolic measures, such as photo-ops, which have been tried before to no avail.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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