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First Coast Connect

11/16/2017: Walking While Black; AAAPG Rally; Four Women; Jekyll Island 'Merry Shrimpmas'

Kevin Meerschaert

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter Ben Conarck  about a report that shows blacks in Jacksonville are cited for pedestrian violations at a much higher rate than whites (01:14).

Dr. Sam Suger, founder of the group Americans Against Probate Guardianship spoke about a rally held Thursday afternoon in Ponte Vedra (24:38).

Local TV news producer and author Nikesha Elise Williams discussed her debut book “Four Women” (33:25).

We heard about next week’s Merry Shrimpmas festival with Jekyll Island events manager Nancy Kring-Rowan (46:00).   

Walking While Black

The investigation by The Florida Times-Union and ProPublica has to do with the way the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office issues citations for pedestrian violations like jaywalking.

JSO hands out hundreds of such tickets every year. There are dozens of statutes governing how people get around on foot here in Florida’s most populous and spread out city.

The most common and well-known is the jaywalking statute. It bars people from crossing against a red light. But you can also be ticketed for things like crossing against a yellow light, for failing to cross a street at a right angle, even for not walking on a sidewalk if one is available.

JSO says it enforces these statutes to keep us all safe. However, the analysis of five years of pedestrian tickets shows no strong relationship between where the tickets are being issued and where pedestrians are being killed. The tickets are being disproportionately issued to African-Americans, and almost always in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, according to the Times-Union and ProPublica.


A rally was held Thursday afternoon in Ponte Vedra to call attention to a little-known problem:  Elder Abuse in probate court guardianships. Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianshipled the event. It’s happened during the National Conference of Probate Judges Convention at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

Four Women

What happens to four strangers when the present meets the past and the whole world is watching?

This is the question author and local television news producer Nikesha Elise Williams answers in her debut novel, “Four Women,” which will be released Thanksgiving Day.

In a time when much attention has been focused on young African-American men like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and others- Williams shines a light on figures often left out of those tragic narratives- the women in the story.

The official book release signing and discussion about the novel with activist Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, will be held WJCT Studios Dec. 2. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event is free.

Merry Shrimpmas Festival

Even though Hurricane Irma knocked all of us off our game a couple of months ago, the area is rebounding this fall with a series of events, and that includes Jekyll Island on the Golden Isles of Georgia.

Jekyll is combining two of the island’s signature events: the Shrimp & Grits Festival and the annual Tree Lighting celebration in an event named “Merry Shrimpmas.”   

It takes place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 24 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. Nov. 25.

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.