Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Protesters Could Be Charged; Sheriff's Office Will Separate Demonstrators in Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Protesters Could Be Charged; Sheriff's Office Will Separate Demonstrators in Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Sebastian Kitchen

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Tuesday that there could be more arrests from Friday's melee at Hemming Park, that police officers' actions during the protest are now under internal investigation, and that his officers will handle future protests differently, separating opposing factions at future demonstrations and arresting those who cross a line.

"We're not going to infringe on anybody's right to protest, but there may be some additional restrictions that we put in place really addressing what we believe to be a new dynamic in protests, not only in Jacksonville, but all around the country," he said.

Progressives organized Friday's protest downtown to denounce President Donald Trump ordering missile attacks in Syria in response to a chemical attack on civilians there. While two men were speaking with a bullhorn, Trump supporter Gary Snow stood on a ledge next to them and antagonized them with his own bullhorn, and by waving a Trump flag right in front of them.

Officers intervened when a skirmish ensued and resorted to force - which the officers deemed necessary to gain compliance and protesters contend was excessive - to gain control of the fracas and arrest six people. Five of the six were anti-war protesters, some of whom resisted arrest or tried to forcefully stop officers from arresting fellow protesters. One of the six was identified as a Trump supporter.

Snow is seen in video and still images sitting on an officer's vehicle. Some protesters have questioned why some of the anti-war protesters were arrested for inciting a riot, but Snow was not detained and charged. Snow, along with getting in the face of opposing protesters, was confrontational and made lewd gestures as the situation escalated.

When asked if Snow could be charged, Williams said, "We're going to evaluate those videos. We will see (if there is) anyone who was not charged that should be on either side ... if there is evidence in the video that supports that."

Snow defended his actions at the protest in an interview with The Times-Union.

"I didn't do anything wrong," he said. …

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