Just as protests challenging police were starting to subside in Jacksonville, the proposed Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget has civil rights activists calling for more demonstrations.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams this week presented his proposed budget for the next fiscal year to Mayor Lenny Curry’s staff and called for a $481-million spending plan for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That’s a budget increase of about $6 million from the current budget and calls for 40 new officers.
The Jacksonville Community Action Committee, a civil rights and police watch-dog group that has organized multiple protests in the past month, called for a demonstration this weekend against Williams’ proposed spending plan.
“For the past few weeks, thousands have hit the streets demanding change and accountability from JSO and they’ve been met with more of the same,” said Hakeem Balogun, an organizer with the Action Committee.
“Instead of JSO getting a budget increase during a time of such economic insecurity and siphoning needed resources from the black community, a large portion of their budget should be reinvested back into the community to deal with poverty and inequality.”
Balogun led marches and protests through downtown Jacksonville beginning May 30 in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. That’s when some 3,000 people protested outside JSO headquarters on Bay Street and other areas.
That’s also when JSO police engaged in violent clashes with demonstrators after the Action Committee had concluded its demonstration. Police in riot gear launched tear gas and flash bangs as dozens were arrested.
The Action Committee regrouped on June 6 and rallied an estimated 8,000 people to demonstrate outside the Duval County Courthouse and returned with an estimated 4,000 protesters June 13.
The Jacksonville Community Action Committee is calling for another march Saturday at 3 p.m. on Bay Street in front of the JSO headquarters to “denounce the current JSO budget” as well as other issues.