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Advocates call for end to 'no-knock' warrants, condemn Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for 'systemic racism'

Activists say "no-knock" warrants are unjust and illegal in Florida and should be banned. They're also calling for charges against Diamonds Ford to be dropped.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A group of community activists is demanding the end of "no-knock" warrants by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and condemning JSO for what they call systemic racism within the agency.

In September 2020, Diamonds Ford was arrested after a SWAT operation in Northwest Jacksonville. Now, Ford, along with her attorney and members of the group Dignity Power are speaking out against the criminal justice system.

Ford fired a gun at police Sept. 28, during a joint operation between JSO and the Drug Enforcement Agency executing a search warrant at the home where she was staying on Rutledge Pearson Drive. Both Ford and her fiancée Anthony Gantt were arrested. 

Ford told her attorney she was awoken to the sound of a window in the home being broken and loud noises coming from outside. She shot through the window, believing someone was attempting to burglarize the home, her attorney said.

The bullet hit an officer who was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The group held a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday at the Duval County Courthouse on West Adams Street, claiming that "no-knock" warrants are unjust and illegal in the state of Florida and should be banned. They are also calling for all charges against Ford to be dropped.

According to JSO policy, they do not conduct "no-knock" warrants, and all officers are required to announce their presence, display their badges and insignia and verbally announce they have a search warrant for the premises.

According to Ford's arrest report, "The warrant was a DEA search warrant, based on narcotics activity occurring over several months, involving the residence."

Ford posted bail on Friday after community organizations across the country including Dignity Power, the National Bail Fund Network and the Minnesota Freedom Fund coordinated to raise more than $530,000 to free her, according to a news release. The organizations also helped Ford with health services, housing, groceries and holistic support services to help her during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the news release says.

RELATED: Woman says she didn't know police were outside home when she shot through a window, hitting an officer in September SWAT operation

RELATED: Virginia governor signs 'Breonna's Law' banning no-knock search warrants

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