Jacksonville activists plan demonstration in response to guilty Chauvin verdict

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Activists and demonstrators in Jacksonville listened with nervous anticipation Tuesday as Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s verdict following the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin was found guilty of all three murder and manslaughter charges against him for the killing of George Floyd last May.

“That’s what justice sounds like!” shouted Jacksonville activist, Hope McMath, immediately after the verdict was read.

The Northside Coalition and Take ‘em Down Jax had gathered in front of Duval County Public School headquarters to demonstrate in response to the verdict.

“Thank god and won’t he do it! Those were my immediate thoughts at the time. Because we had certain concerns. We’ve seen so many of these trials of these police officers where the police officer walks away clear and free,” said Northside Coalition leader, Ben Frazier.

Now activists turn their attention to local demonstrations.

Maria Garcia of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee says demonstrators will hold a rally in front of the Duval County courthouse on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“My immediate reaction was relief, but a little bit of sadness. Because it shouldn’t take this much. It shouldn’t have been so uncertain to get accountability,” said Garcia. “… We want to have a rally, obviously to celebrate this guilty verdict, but also to demand justice for all victims of police crimes and police violence.”

In light of Florida’s new anti-riot law, she says organizers are taking measures to ensure demonstrations happen peacefully.

“We really are big on having peacekeepers, marshals, about having crowd control, about making sure that we have somebody keeping an eye out on all areas of the crowd,” said Garcia. “So that if there’s any type of tension that’s happening, that it gets diffused.”