JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A local pastor wants the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to apologize to a pastor whom police arrested during the weekend's protests downtown.
Pastor Jay Harris of The Ville Church spoke in from the of the Duval County courthouse Monday afternoon regarding the arrest of Pastor Delanie Smith, who is part of another church.
Smith was arrested on Sunday, May 31 while attending the protests in Downtown Jacksonville. Harris said Smith was at the protests to encourage attendees to not destroy property but to protest within their rights while respecting law enforcement.
Smith posted a video of the incident to her Facebook page. The hour-long video shows Smith praying with protesters and telling them to stay on the sidewalk to remain in compliance with law enforcement. Smith is detained in the last five minutes of the video, which can be viewed here.
"And she is arrested by an officer on camera while she is telling people to please leave," Harris said. "This woman is out here protecting our property, and I imagine people in our city would call someone like that a hero ... When our officers don't have the patience to stop and distinguish a hero from a criminal, we have crossed the line into a grievous situation."
In addition to a public apology made to Smith, Harris also wants her record expunged, saying "There shouldn't be a blemish on her record."
Harris said systemic racism is an issue in Jacksonville and encouraged people of color and allies to spend money in the city's black communities.
"There's a bible verse that says if one suffers, we all suffer ..." he said. "We need to look at the systematic racism that is in place in this city, we need to go back to the historical narrative of this city."
Over the weekend, at least 22 people, ranging between the ages of 18 and 80 years old, were arrested from the protests. They were charged with unlawful assembly, which is a second-degree misdemeanor, according to JSO records.
JSO records do not show Smith among the group arrested.