At an organized march Tuesday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the Confederate monument taken down at Hemming Park before sunrise will not be the only one.
“It’s gone,” Curry said. “And the others in this city will be removed as well.”
Asked why he didn’t make a decision to remove the monuments before, Curry said his mindset has changed.
“I’ve evolved on the importance of the issue,” Curry said. “I’ve heard people, absolutely. If our opinions and our policies don’t evolve, then we’re not growing and we’re stagnant. ”
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For some protesters, the removal shows that change is actually being made.
“I don't think it's over, but we’re seeing the change that we're having now and the impact that we're having through all of our diligence and hard work and protesting,” said protester NV Pharoah, who has participated in multiple protests in the past week and a half.
The mayor, a Republican, did not respond to questions about whether President Donald Trump would agree with his decision.
Trump called the removal of the monuments “foolish” and “sad” in tweets from 2017, when a national conversation was sparked around them.
At the march, Curry was joined by Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, along with several other Jaguars players. City native and comedian Lil Duval also attended.
“My fear right now is my kids getting older, getting stopped, and - I'm keeping it real - and then them getting shot or anything,” Fournette said to the crowd.
Curry also announced he is introducing legislation that will formally bring together officials from his administration, City Council, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the public defender, and “independent voices from the community” to make decisions on new policies regarding racial inequalities and economic opportunities.
The mayor said within the past two days, he’s reached out to organizations that have organized the peaceful protests to discuss what further actions need to be taken.
A crowd of hundreds - including Curry and Williams - marched from City Hall to the Duval County Courthouse and back again. Throughout the walk, groups chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “release the body cams”.
Outside the courthouse, Williams said he wants to see the release of more body camera footage, which has been a hot topic of discussion by Jacksonville’s peaceful protesters.
“We would not have bought the cameras if we didn’t intend on sharing the videos,” Williams said.
He said the legal parameters surrounding releasing the videos to the public can be “complicated to explain” and “convoluted.”
“I think sooner than later, you know, the next few weeks, you'll begin to see a release of body camera footage, in terms of officer-involved shootings,” Williams said.
After the crowd returned to City Hall, city officials left and a large mass of people formed outside to continue protesting.
Eventually, the group moved to Hemming Park, right in front of where the Confederate monument once stood. Several speakers addressed the crowd.
Linda Dayson, the CEO and founder of Hurting Families With Children In Crime, spoke to the remaining marchers.
She said she’s amazed with how many young people are taking part in “making change.”
“For the people that are in their 40s and 50s, we didn't stand for what was right, because they were afraid of what happened to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X,” Dayson said. “But at the same time right now, these young people are standing up. Not just all black, not all white. They’re all standing up for a common cause and what they believe in, which is something that we should have done a long time ago.”
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