Jacksonville Activists ‘Call In’ To Protest Jaywalking Citation Featured In Viral Video

Jul 6, 2017

A Jacksonville man was threatened with jail time and given two citations for jaywalking and not carrying his ID last month. Devonte Shipman recorded his encounter with Officer J.S. Bolen of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in a video that went viral with over half a million views. 

Warning: Video contains swear words.

Now, the charge against Shipman for not carrying his driver’s license has been dropped. Court records say the license citation was “issued in error,” as reported by our partner News4Jax.

In the video, Bolen approaches Shipman and a friend and tells them they crossed the road while the “Do Not Walk” signal was lit up, and two cars had to slow down because they were improperly in the crosswalk. He informs Shipman jaywalking carries a $65 fine.

Then Bolen asks Shipman for his ID and he tells the officer he doesn’t have it.

“That’s another infraction,” Bolen said. “In the state of Florida, you have to have an ID card on you identifying who you are or I can detain you for seven hours until I figure out who you are.”

In the citation issued against Shipman, Bolen references Florida Statute 322.15, which states a driver’s license should be in “immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle.”

Shipman was walking at the time.

In response, activists calling themselves the Jacksonville Community Action Committee are asking people to call Sheriff Mike Williams and demand Bolen’s firing. The group’s Facebook event page reads, “#WalkingWhileBlack is not a crime. JSO Officer J.S. Bolen racially profiled Devonte Shipman for simply crossing the street in Arlington, claiming he crossed during a no-walk signal. Shipman was given two tickets, was threatened with arrest and taunted for knowing his rights.”

Committee spokeswoman Sara Mahmoud called Bolen’s actions a misuse of authority and said JSO lacks accountability.

“I want to make sure this is set as a precedent because the officer in question cited a false law,” Mahmoud said.

Eventually, she said, the group wants to see the creation of a citizens’ advisory board to investigate police actions

“In each police district, the community has a right to elect a civilian who has no ties to law enforcement to represent (them) on the Jacksonville police accountability council,” Mahmoud said. “So anytime an office fires a weapon, or murders somebody, (or makes) an unlawful arrest, it’s not another law enforcement agency that investigates the issue, it’s the community.”

She said the group will be supporting Shipman at his planned court appearance to challenge his remaining jaywalking citation.

Contact Tiffany Salameh at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter and @tiffanysalameh.