Jacksonville activists accounting for ‘anti-riot’ law as they plan demonstrations for Chauvin verdict

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The fate of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, is now in the hands of 12 jurors.

On Monday, the jury began deliberating whether Chauvin should be convicted of murder and/or manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd.

Now the world awaits a verdict.

“You’ve seen hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country, but then even people even across the globe, take to the streets to protest against police brutality,” said Jacksonville Community Action Committee activist, Michael Sampson.

>>LIVE UPDATES on Derek Chauvin trial

Sampson says JCAC is planning demonstrations in our area following the verdict.

He tells Action News Jax the JCAC’s demonstrations will take place within 24 hours of a verdict, no matter the jury’s decision.

JCAC took part in organizing several large demonstrations around Jacksonville in 2020 following Floyd’s death.

“This is a very monumental time in this country’s history,” said Sampson.

While most demonstrations in Jacksonville last year were peaceful, some resulted in arrests and property damage.

Sampson says maintaining a peaceful environment is a priority.

“We have peaceful organized demonstrations with marshals, peacekeepers, as well as other trained individuals who are protecting the safety of all protesters. And we do that on our own accord,” said Sampson.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot’ bill into Florida law

This year, activists are taking into account the new ‘anti-riot’ bill signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday.

The law aims to crack down on violent demonstrations with enhanced penalties.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams issued a statement on the bill becoming law.

“I am very pleased that our Governor has demonstrated yet again his support for law enforcement in signing House Bill 1 – the Anti-Riot Bill. Jacksonville, along with the rest of the state is ready to work together to build stronger bridges of trust and cooperation while maintaining public safety. Public Safety is paramount for everyone in Florida – our families, our neighbors and our businesses,” said Sheriff Williams.

Sampson feels the new law aims to intimidate protesters.

“In regards to the legislation the purpose of it was to serve a chilling effect for all those hitting the streets and all those demanding justice,” said Sampson.

The Northside Coalition, another local activist group in Jacksonville, is also planning Jacksonville area demonstrations this week.

Northside Coalition President, Ben Frazier, says their group is also taking measures to ensure demonstrations occur peacefully.

“We will maintain, encourage and practice nonviolent principals, self-monitor our demonstrations, utilize our own protest marshals and we will ask the American Civil Liberties Union to provide legal observers,” said Frazier.