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College professors suggest changes to policing in Jacksonville

More than 100 Jacksonville college and university professors sent the mayor a letter demanding more action after he announced the removal of Confederate monuments.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Tuesday Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made the bold move and removed a Confederate monument from Hemming plaza, the first of more to come, he said.

Hours later he would participate in a peaceful protest and promised to introduced legislation addressing racial disparities.

Wednesday, more than 100 Jacksonville college and university professors sent the mayor a letter demanding more.

"This is evidence of a movement for change," said John Woodward.

Dr. Woodward, faculty senate president at FSCJ, is one of the signers of the letter.

"We need to get systems that are objective and oriented toward helping communities," he said.

In their letter the educators lists four imperatives: 

  • Democratize: get citizens in oversight boards with real power to make real change and to guide policy in policing.
  • Demilitarize: citizens are not enemies on the battlefield. We have to treat them with the respect they deserve, whether they have committed a crime or not. And we must get rid of battlefield tactics in policing as well.
  • Reform Criminal Justice: we have to deprioritize minor infractions, increase education, treatment for addiction, treatment for mental illness, and increase community control of their own streets. We have to systematically convert misdemeanors to civil infractions and create a progressive fine structure so those who have less money pay less money for the infraction.
  • We have to destigmatize PTSD in policing and increase mandatory treatment for those police and citizens involved in violent confrontation.

Woodward said some of their suggestions have been used in other municipalities successfully.

"We would like to see 'blind charging' where race is removed from the policy report that is sent to the state's attorney," said Woodward. "It removes any kind of biases one may have when it comes to prosecuting crime."

The mayor's staff told On Your Side he has received thousands of emails since Tuesday's actions.

The staffer said Curry wants to be sure every voice is heard and he will review the letter from the professors as soon as possible.

"We expect the mayor to respond to our request," he said.

You can read the full text of the letter below.

117 West Duval Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32202 Dear Mayor Curry, Members of the City Council, and Sheriff Mike Williams: On May 25th 2020, the country watched in horror as Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvinfatally knelt on the neck of George Floyd for almost nine minutes, while three other officersstood by as he begged for his life and as bystanders, many videoing the scene, pleaded withofficers to stop.

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