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First Coast

State Representative Criticizes County Reaction To Orange Crush

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Florida House of Representatives
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State Rep. Angie Nixon is sworn into the Florida House of Representatives following her 2020 election victory.

Jacksonville Democratic State Representative Angie Nixon is criticizing the actions of some local businesses and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in the wake of the Orange Crush Festival.In preparation for the festival, which took place over the Father's Day weekend, JSO released a statement last week that it would transfer inmates from the county jail to other facilities in order to make room for potential arrests during the event.

JSO Spokesman Christian Hancock called the move a precautionary measure due to COVID-19, adding the agency did not expect festival goers to cause trouble or that more arrests than usual would be made over the weekend.

Nixon said JSO's decision, along with social media posts from some businesses stating they close for the weekend, "felt very racist."

During an interview on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross on Tuesday, Nixon cited the annual football game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, referencing its unofficial designation as the world's "largest outdoor cocktail party," as an event with primarily white participants that faces less scrutiny from law enforcement and local businesses despite its rowdy nature.

"Unfortunately, the state of Florida and Jacksonville has a problem with Black people congregating in public spaces.”

Nixon, a UF alumnus, claimed that property damage by students and locals in the aftermath of championship games was greeted with a slap on the wrist by local authorities.

She tied the county’s Orange Crush preparations to recent legislation signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that criminalizes certain forms of protest as “aggravated rioting.”

“It’s very upsetting, being a Black woman,” Nixon said. “Feeling as though this country, this state, this city, acts as though Black people are inherently bad.”

The full interview with Nixon is available on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, which encores at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.

Raymon Troncoso can be reached at rtroncoso@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RayTroncoso.