NAACP Defense Fund Comes To Jacksonville To Investigate JSO's Enforcement of Pedestrian Tickets

Apr 16, 2018

Representatives from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund have arrived in Jacksonville to conduct interviews concerning the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s enforcement of pedestrian tickets.

First Coast Connect guest Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville and Wells Todd of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition discussed the numbers of citations and what they called the implicit bias on Monday's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Related: Listen to the First Coast Connect discussion with Frazier and Todd

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is a separate entity from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s trip was prompted by reporting by The Florida Times-Union and ProPublica that uncovered racially disproportionate and often erroneous pedestrian citation enforcement.

“We are elated that they chose to send five person team, from New York City to Jacksonville,” said Frazier. “We are quite hopeful that their investigation will lead to legal action,” said Frazier.

Some 55 percent of the tickets issued over a five-year period went to blacks in a city where they make up 29 percent of the population, according to our Florida Times-Union news partner and ProPublica.

The numbers speak for themselves and are absolutely atrocious, according to Frazier.

Disputing some of the data in the report, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams has acknowledged the issue of implicit bias could be affecting the way tickets are written.

“Could it have anything to do with implicit bias? Of course it could,” Williams told our Florida Times-Union news partner in March.

“Implicit racism, basically has to do with the way our society is set up and the way our society is taught to look at and understand people of color,” said Todd, adding the citations are $65. “I am concerned how it drives poverty,” he added.

The citations can impose financial hardships and could lead to  people losing their driver’s licenses and jobs due to transportation issues.

In June 2017,  a video posted to Facebook went viral that showed a Jacksonville sheriff’s officer threatening a young black man with jail time after he crossed the street without a walk signal.

June 2017 Facebook Video

Last week, a video went viral that showed two black men being arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for their friend.  

Twitter Video Of Starbucks Confrontation

“It's actually living while black,” said Todd, adding, “we have to look specifically how African-Americans are still perceived in our society.”

Photo used under Creative Commons license.