Jacksonville’s new City Council President is wading into the ongoing controversy around the Juneteenth weekend Orange Crush festival, backing organizers and warning about potentially aggressive law enforcement actions.
Council President-designate Sam Newby supports the festival and worries about the Jacksonville Sheriff Office’s decision to clear space in the jail in anticipation of arresting revelers at the festival, which historically has drawn a majority Black crowd in previous years.
“However, the recent proposal shared by JSO to create additional space in our local jails to address anticipated arrests during the Orange Crush Festival concerns me. The implication of a proposal of this nature appears to target Orange Crush Festival patrons,” Newby contended, noting that he “shared his concerns” with the Sheriff.
“He has assured me that this procedure is being implemented because our local jail continues to operate under COVID-19 protocols. Sheriff Williams has also assured me that the goal of this plan is not to unfairly target nor discriminate against the individuals planning to attend the Orange Crush Festival,” Newby, the first Black Republican President of the City Council in Jacksonville history, said Friday.
The local chapter of the NAACP contended Thursday this event is being treated in an “unprecedented” and “discriminatory” way. Other large events, such as the Florida/Georgia game marketed for decades as “the World’s Largest Cocktail Party,” haven’t gotten the same kind of security theater.
“Why is it different for this group? We have not seen the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office take this action with the Florida/Georgia game or any other large gathering,” said Isaiah Rumlin, President of the local chapter.
JSO has told local media that they are ready to ramp up enforcement and confirmed working out a plan to clear space by relocating current inmates.
The Sheriff’s Office told Action News Jax that it intends to “supplement the beaches’ area law enforcement agencies as a result of this weekend’s planned events.”
“We have asked for and received assistance from surrounding counties in reference to the temporary housing of inmates,” the agency told First Coast News.