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Law & Order

Supporters Rally As Bridge Blocking Protesters Appear In Court

Peter Haden

Protesters who held up traffic on the Hart Bridge last month had their first court appearances today at the Duval County Courthouse. Supporters rallied outside, calling on State Attorney Angela Corey to drop their charges.

The Dec. 8 protest was to demand justice for Eric Garner, who died after a New York City policeman put him in a chokehold during an arrest.

Members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition were among those at the courthouse. Member Joseph Willis says the actions of the so-called “Jax 19” protestors should be viewed in a larger context.

Willis says "We understand that what they did on the bridge was an inconvenience. But why were they doing it? You have to have a common sense side in sentencing people. You don’t want to just say 'this is the lay of the law' and slam the gavel on them — you have to have an understanding."

Eighteen protesters pleaded not-guilty today. Their pre-trial hearings are scheduled for Feb 10. The 19th protester is facing felony charges for resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. She will be back in court tomorrow.