Mother of deaf protester arrested at Hemming Park says watching video was 'bitter pill to swallow'

Steven Dial reports. 4/10/2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six people were arrested after a protest turned violent last Friday, many facing felony charges.

"It was a biter hard pill to swallow, seeing that on television,” said Felicia Crooms.

She saw these images when she got home Friday. "That was not something I could have even imagined."

ON YOUR SIDE | Videos of Hemming Park protest explained

She saw what looked like a brawl in Hemming Park, involving police and protesters. What made her more angry was seeing her son being taken down by officers.

"Their actions didn't warrant what the protest was about, their whole actions was not necessary," she said.

Crooms' son, Connell, was one of the six arrested at the gathering protesting the bombing of a Syrian air field after the country's leader, Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on his own people.

Some arrested were charged with assaulting police and others for inciting a riot.

Connell is a Jacksonville activist - he's also deaf. His mother said she believes officers ignored the fact that he had a disability.

She said she also thinks officers should have never let the two groups be near each other.

"They will go back and look at the film again and might even confer with the state attorney's office and ask what do you see,” said Mark Baughman, First Coast News' crime analyst, after looking at the video.

RELATED | JSO reviewing protest policy in Jacksonville after Friday protest, arrests

He says the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office tried to de-escalate the incident, but when an officer is touched the situation changes.

"Keep in mind, you have this right but this is the law," said Baughman. "This has been a deterioration of the public towards the police as well as police feel like they are being targeted and you see both sides of that."

As for Crooms, she says there needs to be swift change within JSO.

"I think that there is a breakdown and flaw in how JSO is trained to handle situations and do their job," said Crooms.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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