Five protesters attacked by police in Jacksonville, Florida as they protested U.S. bombings against Syria are now facing charges, amid a growing #JusticefortheJax5 campaign demanding all charges be immediately dropped.

On 7 April, a peaceful demonstration was organized to call for an end to U.S. intervention in Syria; protesters held signs and chanted against bombing. The demonstration was disrupted by right-wing Trump supporter Gary Snow. As the change.org petition supporting the five demonstrators notes: “Despite the demonstrators committing no crimes according to dozens of witnesses and extensive video footage, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) beat and arrested 5 prominent union and community activists in Jacksonville.”

The Jacksonville Five who were arrested and charged are:

  • Connell Crooms, disabled Black man and Teamster union activist
  • Willie Wilder, a 74 year old Vietnam Veteran and leader of Vets for Peace
  • Christina Kittle, a Queer Black woman and advocate for women & children who face domestic violence
  • Tom Beckham, a Trans rights activist and student activist
  • Dave Schneider, a Teamster Shop Steward and community leader

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has charged the five protesters with multiple felonies on the basis of false allegations. A campaign is urging the immediate dismissal of these charges as well as further investigation:

1. Drop all Charges Against the #Jax5
2. Demand the protection of the right to free speech and to peacefully assemble.
3. Full Investigation of JSO Misconduct, brutality & any ties to White Supremacist Groups/Individuals
4. Full Investigation of Surveillance and Spying on union leaders & Community Organizers

Photo via Justice for the Jax5

In the days since the attack on the protesters, Facebook photographs have revealed that Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams posed for photos with the right-wing rally disruptor, Gary Snow, at a local Trump rally, despite Williams earlier denying any connection to Snow.  In addition, just a week before the rally, it was revealed in local media that the Sheriff’s Office had been spying on protesters and contracting with private corporations to do so; those subject to this spying included Black Lives Matter and labor activists including Schneider, Crooms and Kittle.

Crooms, a Deaf Black labor activist, was particularly heavily attacked by the police, beaten and Tasered; he was hospitalized due to his injuries at the hands of police. Crooms’ mother spoke to a large rally of over 200 people against the police attack on peaceful demonstrators:

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network supports the campaign for Justice for the Jax5 and urges supporters to participate in the campaign:

1. Sign the petition to demand the charges be immediately dropped: https://www.change.org/p/city-of-jacksonville-justice-for-the-jax-5

2. Join the call-in campaign; call State Attorney Melissa Nelson‘s office at +1 904-255-2500 and demand she drop all charges against the Jacksonville 5.

3. Follow the Justice for the Jax 5 campaign on Facebook and join in future actions: https://www.facebook.com/JusticefortheJax5/