Curry Says He’ll Take Part In A Walk Next Week, 'Address Racial Inequality'

Jun 5, 2020

Amid a week filled with protests in Jacksonville – and across the country – Mayor Lenny Curry announced Friday he will be taking part in a walk next week.

The mayor tweeted that he will “bring our city together and address racial inequality.” Curry did not immediately elaborate on details.

At a Thursday news conference the mayor left open the idea of participating in a walk, but added, “This isn’t the time.” Curry went on to say, “I'm interested in action items that we can do through legislation and budgets that will address the needs of the people.” 

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported that City Council member Aaron Bowman on Thursday supported creating a new development authority for Northwest Jacksonville and an increase in the gas tax to finance the authority’s work.

Curry expressed interest in the idea on Thursday, saying, “I’m open to it.”

City Council Garrett Dennis also announced he’s introducing several pieces of legislation that address citizen concerns, including a resolution urging Sheriff Mike Williams to work cooperatively with the state attorney’s office and the public to “refine and improve” the current Jacksonville Sheriff's Office body camera footage policy.

Dennis also released these details about his other legislative proposals:

  • 2020-0326: A resolution supporting the passage of a policy designating City Hall as a “Hit Free Zone,” to include training of employees for an appropriate response.
  • 2020-0320: An ordinance relating to the Council Rules to allow for public comment at the beginning of City Council meetings as well as the end.
  • 2020-0311: An amendment to the Jacksonville Small Emerging Business Program, mandating a 20% goal on all contracts for small and emerging businesses, which could potentially secure $60 million in contracting opportunities annually.

Dennis is hosting a Solidarity Walk on Sunday at 11 a.m., which he said City Council members and other elected local and state representatives will take part in.

Sunday does mark the first day of “next week,” but Curry did not say whether was referring to Dennis' walk.

In an email to WJCT News, Dennis said the mayor and sheriff are invited. 

Sunday’s walk will begin on the steps of City Hall at 117 West Duval St. and end at Jacksonville Fire Rescue Station 1 at 611 N. Liberty St.

“The citizens of Jacksonville are looking for leadership from their elected officials during this period of unrest due to racial inequality across our nation,” Dennis said.

In addition to calling for a nationwide end to police brutality, many Jacksonville protesters have been calling for the release of JSO body camera footage taken during recent police-involved shootings and an accountability council led by citizens to provide oversight on JSO.

Williams indicated at a Tuesday news conference that the first footage from a JSO officer-involved shooting will likely be released next week. Williams also said Tuesday he was open to the idea of holding a march of solidarity that includes city officials.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.