6 arrested after fight among Jacksonville protesters for and against U.S. airstrikes against Syria

By: Action News Jax

Updated:

Six people were arrested after a fight broke out in downtown Jacksonville among protesters both for and against U.S. airstrikes in Syria on Friday night.

The fight happened live on FOX30 Action News Jax at 6:30.


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The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said six people total were arrested:

-David Schneider, 27, who police say was the primary organizer of the protest, was charged with inciting or encouraging a riot

-Connell Crooms, 26, was charged with resisting an officer with violence and inciting or encouraging a riot. Crooms was taken to UF Health Jacksonville with non-life-threatening injuries.

-William Wilder, 74, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of protection or communication, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and inciting or encouraging a riot.

-Christina Kittle, 27, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and inciting or encouraging a riot

-Robert Sheffield Jr., 67, was charged with affray (disturbing the peace)

-Thomas Beckham, 26, was charged with resisting an officer with violence and affray (disturbing the peace)

JSO said about 100 to 200 people were attending the protest and 16 officers were spread throughout the park and the surrounding area prior to the rally. About 12 more officers showed up after the fight broke out.


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Police reports said a man was at the protest was waving a Donald Trump flag and several protesters "stood in his face while recording him with cellphones. The man would walk away, but the protesters would aggressively follow him and continue their behavior. This behavior continued, but was non-violent."

Schneider addressed the crowd with a megaphone, then Crooms got on the megaphone and "began to yell (expletive) the police and the protesters followed his lead," the report said.

The man holding the Donald Trump flag began to yell pro-police statements into a different megaphone "and that was when Mr. Crooms became violent," the report said.

An officer told Crooms to focus on what he had to say and remain peaceful and then police say he "aggressively tried attacking the subject with the Trump flag a second time," according to the report.

Crooms was told by officers he was under arrest and "began to resist with violence," police said, and was "kicking and elbowing" one officer.

Crooms was taken to UF Health Jacksonville with non-life-threatening injuries. Crooms' mother Felicia contacted Action News Jax after she saw her son's arrest unfold on air.

"To see my son being hit upon, and punched like a punching bag, that's very upsetting to me," Felicia Crooms said.

Crooms said her son didn't swing back at officers and is actually deaf. 

"This is how we treat our children with disabilities? This is very upsetting," Felicia Crooms said.

JSO shared further details of the incident and the arrests in a Facebook post on its page:

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