Activists: JSO unfairly targets minorities with pedestrian tickets

The activists say they are trying to work with JSO to solve the issue where 60 percent of African-Americans received pedestrian tickets.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Several local activists and local civil rights organizations met Tuesday to discuss a joint investigation by the Florida Times-Union and ProPublica called "Walking While Black," which found that nearly 60 percent of pedestrian tickets issued by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office went to African-Americans despite how they encompass 29 percent of the city's population.

The groups claimed that they scheduled meetings with JSO's sheriff Mike Williams Tuesday morning, but said he canceled or sent someone else in his place. One of those meetings was with the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville.

"I was saddened because I think the time is long overdue for us to have honest face-to-face conversations about the issues confronting law enforcement and the Black community in this town," said Ben Frazier, the president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville. He said no one from JSO showed up to their meeting.

A JSO representative showed up to the meeting with the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations, however.

Wells Todd with the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition attended the second meeting. He said ethnicity and socio-economic status plays a major part in the results of the investigation.

"I was watching, observing... people were jay walking," Todd said. "People were riding their bikes wherever they wanted to ride them. People were walking against the light. Nobody got stopped. Nobody got a ticket... We believe discriminatory policing tactics are used."

The group is now calling on the city to suspend all pay citations relating to jay walking or walking on public streets.

"We think our request to suspend the writing of those tickets and instead, issue verbal warnings, is a reasonable request," Todd said. "We think it would work. We need to work together to maket his city a city that's too busy to hate."

JSO told our news partners, the Florida Times-Union that they issue tickets to cut down on pedestrian fatalities.

First Coast News reached out to Williams for comment on Tuesday's meeting, as well as Mayor Lenny Curry. Neither have responded at the time of this report.

Williams previously commented saying there hasn't been any targeting of African-Americans or poor communities when it comes to writing pedestrian violation tickets.

Click here to read the story "Walking While Black' by the Florida Times-Union and ProPublica.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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