Local Curfew Fails to Put Jacksonville Protestors to Sleep

By Liam Wirsansky on June 4, 2020

Mayors are enacting local  curfews nationwide, as the surge in national unrest in the form of protests continues after the murder of George Floyd and so many other black lives at the hands of the police, local governments have begun responding with a flurry of deterrents in order to quell the dissent within their communities. The latest has been mandated city-wide curfews.

In local spheres, such as Jacksonville, Florida, protests began peacefully in the days following massive demonstrations across the country in other major cities. Like others of its kind, the campaign began lawfully in the form of a unity march, but slowly deteriorated into the night as the numbers grew smaller, and the police presence grew in size and in riot preventative equipment. Ultimately deterrents like tear gas were used against these protestors as light conflict ensued and arrests were made.


Following the preliminary rally near the police station and county jail in Downtown Jacksonville on Saturday, June 30th, the police cornered the streets of Downtown, blocking cars and citizens from accessing another organized protest at the steps of the courthouse. Demonstrators, chanted, “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace,” as police stalked closely, ordering protesters to stay off the streets and on the sidewalk. Officers in riot gear dispersed the crowd of protesters who were blocking the courthouse intersection by kneeling in the street, as several arrests were made without a clear indication or explanation as to why the protestors were being detained.

Police officers appeared to escalate tensions as the day turned to dusk with the local government and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officially responding to the weekend of demonstrations which saw 79 arrests and an unprecedented level of defiance and local unity. Responding to the civil unrest, Mayor Lenny Curry, said, “I watched it. There were some kids out there making their voices heard, respectfully, and then they left and the folks that are left are — it’s not about peaceful protest. It’s not about reform. It’s not about change. It’s about violence…Police officers have been attacked, and we’re not going to tolerate it in our city. We’re not going to let them burn our city to the ground.”

Announcing early Sunday evening that there would be a curfew from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday, the mayor cited “criminal activity that threatens first responders” as the reason for imposing the curfew order, as officers were seen marching down Adams Street wearing heavy tactical gear.

Although no arrests were made during the night, the decision to enact a curfew has come under scrutiny, as citizens continue to reproach the police and city’s vehement response to peaceful protests against racialized police brutality. The decision for an early curfew and quick action is especially scrutinized when compared to the somewhat slower and lenient response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has disproportionately affected black and lower income communities.  In the midst of a global pandemic, local businesses and industries have returned to a slightly modified sense of normality, while citizens continue to struggle with issues of unemployment, scarcity, and survival, while the local government flaunts its outrageous funding of the police department, with major cuts to the Duval County School Board and other social programs looming. With national unrest at much higher levels of conflict, the case has been made that the response to the protests has been unwarranted, especially taking the curfew into consideration.


With the momentum seemingly building nationwide and after a third day of protests in front of the Jacksonville Courthouse following the curfew that saw nearly 100 demonstrators in attendance, many of whom laid down on the ground in solidarity, the Jacksonville local government faces a task ahead at appeasing what appears to be an extended struggle for liberty and civility. Surrounding the dispute over transparency and a break in silence lies the desire for a release in body cam footage relating to recent incidents involving police brutality, as well as for proving the use of premeditated and unwarranted force against protestors.

Only time will reveal the whole truth and culminating results of these demonstrations, but participation, acknowledgement, and accountability has been at the center of this campaign. Curfews may become a norm, as well as a strategy to deter dissent. If you want to help support the movement, here is a list of  funds and foundations, nationally, in Minnesota, in Florida, and locally in Jacksonville.








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