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
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/