Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Local Group Rallies In Aftermath Of Ferguson Verdict

Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, via Facebook

Members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition were gathered in downtown Hemming Plaza when news of the Ferguson grand jury verdict broke.

A grand jury declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black, unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Coalition organizer Estefania Galvis said the announcement felt like a shot through the community’s heart.

"We were all shocked and outraged about the fact that Darren Wilson did not get indicted, and we sat there, and as Mike Brown’s parents asked we took 4.5 minutes and sat in silence, and as those 4.5 minutes passed our outrage just grew," she said.

Like hundreds in Ferguson, the local group of about 35 people spent the hours following the news in protest, marching around the park and chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” in tribute to the slain teen.

Eighteen-year-old Brown was shot by Wilson on Aug. 9, but the version of events of what occurred in the leading up to his death have varied widely. According to some witnesses, Brown appeared to raise his hands and attempted to flee when he was shot. Wilson and other witnesses maintain Brown appeared to charge him when he was shot.

In the aftermath of the verdict, demonstrations and riots sparked across Ferguson as well as in cities across the country.

In Jacksonville, where the racially-charged murder case of 17-year-old Jordan Davis is still fresh on people’s mind, Galvis said Ferguson pours salt on an open wound.

Davis, an unarmed, black teen, was fatally shot in November 2012 during a confrontation with 47-year-old white Brevard County man Michael Dunn in a Gate gas station. Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison last month.

"This morning when I woke up, I felt a little bit more insecure one more time that I might walk down the street and find a brother or a sister lying on the street dead," she said. "That should not be a feeling that people need to wake up with."

The group is planning another larger rally in Hemming Plaza 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"We're tired of it," Galvis said. "Enough is enough, and we're going to keep on standing up for justice."

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.