by Lynn Jones
The Jacksonville Jaguars invited members of the Jacksonville community, media representatives and local activist to attend their “Jaguars Town Hall: Identifying Solutions to Social Change”. The Town Hall meeting took place Tuesday evening at EverBank Field. The panel discussion featured Jaguars players and local representatives as they discussed race relations and ways to bring about sustainable change locally.
Leading the conversation was Marcus Pollard, Jacksonville Jaguars Director of Player Development and Youth Football. Pollard took control of the stage and engaged the panelists with questions on solutions, next steps and a game plan to identify proactive goals and resolutions. Panelist and Jaguar player Prince Amukamara spoke to the audience concerning NFL player and colleague Colin Kaepernick’s taking a stance and not standing for the national anthem.
“Yes, myself and other players considered not standing for the national anthem. First we had to think how it would affect our families. I discussed the situation with my wife and even though she stated she could take the controversy, after Colin wore socks with pictures of pigs dressed like police officers became a distraction, we decided to not move forward with a local protest,” he said.
Rounding out the panel was police officer Assistant Chief T.K. Waters whose role as Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Violence Reduction Strategist was eager to point out, “Many of our officers do not go out every day and intend to kill or shoot a suspect. We have families too. We care about our communities and take pride in our jobs.” Officer Waters also elaborated on the many violent incidents in the community and that having this panel discussion could be the gateway to community engagement throughout the First Coast.
Panelist Retired Rear Admiral Victor Guillory, U.S. Navy, was eager to speak to the audience on his tenure in the Navy and how his role as admiral took him around the world. Admiral Guillory smiled when speaking about the Jaguar fans, “The fans are the number one priority, my suggestion is that with the national anthem controversy, why not have the fans sing the anthem to engage the many diverse fans that patronize the stadium each week.”
The most dominating panelist was Mayor Lenny Curry.
Mayor Curry was eager to speak as his week has been filled with local shootings and killings that have seen an infant and two young adults gunned down in front of a local convenience store.
“Yes I admit that there is a difference when I walk down the street and when an African American male walks down the street. –
Sometimes I have to push my staff in certain positions so they can see that everyone is not the same. You have to take a deep breath and listen to someone else. You can’t have preconceived notions. We have to challenge the community to get to know each other. Today’s town hall is a step in the right direction”. Other issues discussed were driving while black and how to handle the cops when stopped by the police.