Jacksonville Councilwoman Calls Protests 'Culmination Of Decades Of Frustration'

Jun 2, 2020

Jacksonville District 10 City Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson is among those weighing in the protests and outbreaks of violence in Jacksonville and cities across the country.

“What you saw on Saturday was just the culmination of decades of frustration,” said Priestly Jackson Tuesday on WJCT News' First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Jackson said that as a mother of two African American sons and two African American daughters, she has talked with them about how to engage in a “healthy, safe way with the police.”

A big point of contention among local protestors has been how the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has been implementing body cams.

“We are now looking into, ‘What is the current status of the body cams?’ You know, ‘What are the policies relative to the body cams with JSO? Why have the videos not been released? Are there in fact videos that have been taken at this point in time?' because I think the community needs that level of accountability,” Priestly Jackson said.

Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition, is calling on the Sheriff’s Office to release body camera footage of all police shootings, including those that led to the deaths of Jamee Johnson, Kwame Jones and Reginald Boston.

Tuesday afternoon Sheriff Mike Williams announced the first body cam footage surrounding a police-involved shooting will likely be released next week, adding he would be open to changing the policy of how body cam footage is released going forward.

Related: Jax Sheriff Says 'There's Issues With Law Enforcement That Need To Be Addressed'

“We continue to see economic injustice,” said Tammy Hodo, an adjunct; who lectures on diversity, inequality and mass incarceration at the University of North Florida.

Hodo, who also appeared on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Tuesday, said the country has gotten to a flashpoint. “We see mass incarceration. We see hyper segregation. We see low-income schools that are predominantly filled with students of color that do not have all the resources that other schools have,” Hodo said, adding that people are emotionally exhausted.

Preistly Jackson echoed that sentiment. She said many have come to believe that some value property over lives in our capitalistic society.

“I want to be real clear, that didn't start with protests now. That's the history that’s a carryover from slavery, Jim Crow, and different times in this country when there has been African American advancement,” Jackson said.

Circling back to the Sheriff's Office, Hodo said there needs to be more implicit bias training, which she said currently seems more geared toward the LGBTQI community.

Implicit bias training seeks to help police understand the role that unconscious bias can play within their organization.

Jackson said more accountability is needed at JSO.

“I think that this year there’s going to be some real conversations. Is that the best use for our budgetary dollars?” she said.

Hear the full conversation with Jackson and Hodo, along with listener calls on the topic, on Tuesday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.