By Jasmine Butler – In a special news segment aired on Action News Jax, city officials and community advocates addressed current issues and next steps for Jacksonville, Florida. In a time of protests, policy reform, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, they openly discuss what is being done to make Jacksonville a better place.
Sheriff Mike Williams, talked about the importance of having the community involved in changes being made in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“A lot of our evaluation and change comes from conversations with the community. The body camera footage is a great example. We had seven town hall meetings to develop our policy on body cameras,” Williams shared.
Ben Frazier, community activist with the Northside Coalition, strongly advocates for his community. He shares the constant need for them to be heard.
“We need to have public officials who are listening to the voice of the people. For three years the community pressed for the removal of confederate monuments. Now he is just considering it. But the problem was that he wasn’t listening to the voice of the people,” Frazier said.
In the discussion, Christina Kittle with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, pressed the issue of time when it comes to the release of body camera footage and reformation. She worries that the community is becoming impatient and policy reform is now time sensitive.
“All I’m saying is, as an organizer of these protests, we’re getting more and more people out. They are becoming antsy. angry, and distrustful,” she said.
When speaking about racism, Tenikka Hughes inquired about the way that the city leaders are educating themselves and employees about systemic and institutional racism.
In response, State Attorney Melissa Nelson, shared her personal and collective studies of racial injustice in the black community.
“Race relations and inequality in the justice system were largely a part of the reason I decided to get involved in politics. Not only personally have I done it, but we’ve done it within our office… I truly believe we can learn from good research and it can inform and affect good policy.”
After listening to the specific issues of disenfranchised communities in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Mayor agreed to make himself open and available to the ideas and needs of the community.
“There is a lot of work to be done. I could use the help. I need council members to work with you and pitch specific projects that we can pick from and work into the next budget. I am open to that. That is real progress.”