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A flash point: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police surround a demonstrator who was detained May 30t during protests, touching off a confrontation with flash bangs and tear gas. Photo via Drew Dixon.

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Jacksonville protestor sentenced to prison for violent clash with police

The protestor jumped on top of a police car and punched an officer in the neck.

One of the protesters arrested during violent clashes with Jacksonville police on May 30 has been sentenced to prison, the Fourth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Martin Bryan Sylvera-Albor was sentenced to 21 months in Florida state prison and one year of community control connected to the confrontations with police about a half year ago. Circuit Judge Meredith Charbula handed down the sentence against Sylvera-Albor after he pleaded guilty to charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief.

Sylvera-Albor was one of thousands of protesters in downtown Jacksonville on May 30, the first Saturday after the video recorded killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd’s killing touched off massive protests in cities across the United States.

On May 30, some 3,000 protesters coursed through the streets of downtown Jacksonville peacefully for about three hours as they demonstrated against excessive force by police. The peaceful protest ended about 6:30 p.m. but many protesters who lingered soon became entangled in violent clashes with police and tear gas and flash-bang grenades were indiscriminately launched by riot patrol officers clad in armor. Dozens of people were arrested.

There were mixed reports in media and accounts coming from police that a Jacksonville officer was injured in the neck. Some reports said the officer was stabbed and other reports were ambiguous as to the extent of the injury.

Sylvera-Albor was seen jumping on top of a police car and approaching a police officer. The scene was recorded by several mobile devices from civilians and police. Sylvera-Albor was arrested on June 11 after a warrant was issued and residents helped police find him after he was identified in the video. The injured officer was punched in the neck.

While Sylvera-Albor was prosecuted, State Attorney Melissa Nelson dismissed 15 arrests of protesters by Jacksonville police on May 30 ruling there were no grounds for the charges. She also threw out another 48 arrest charges Jacksonville police made against protestors the following day on May 31.

Later, U.S. Middle District Court Judge Brian Davis ruled the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was out of line during that last weekend of May. Davis sided with four protesters who sued the police in federal court.

In August, Davis ordered the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to pay the four protesters a combined $100,000 in punitive damages and to cover legal costs in the contentious lawsuit. Davis also issued orders calling for Jacksonville police to restrain themselves from indiscriminate arrests and deploying tear gas at will during civil unrest.

The protests and confrontations with police left high levels of acrimony between some residents and Jacksonville police. There are still several other outstanding lawsuits against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and demonstrators who had arrest charges dismissed.

Written By

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 drewdixonwriting@gmail.com.

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