Ben Frazier, founder and president of the Northside Coalition, and Christina Kittle, a leader of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, shared their experiences in working for racial justice in Jacksonville at the virtual June BAM meeting. They also outlined how we can advocate for and support their efforts.
Frazier provided historical background on disenfranchised neighborhoods in NW Jacksonville and the impact of poverty, racism, under-funded schools, limited health care and lack of economic opportunities. He noted this area – despite promises made during efforts to consolidate the city – has been ignored for generations by elected officials.
Frazier urged BAM members to join his Northside Coalition as it continues to organize and protest. He also asked for financial support for the organization and its activities. He plans to take protesting “further down the line” with protests at polls and demands for recalls for negligent government officials.
Christina Kittle, who came to her work for racial justice through her own life experience, including her role as one of the “Jacksonville 5” - five activists beaten and arrested by the JSO at an antiwar protest in 2017, made the case for an elected Civilian Accountability Council to give the community an active role in police oversight.
Creating this Council would require the repeal of F.S.112.532, known as the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' and Correctional Officers' Bill of Rights. This legislation as currently written would block any efforts to empower a civilian review board. She urged BAM members to consider supporting its repeal or amendment.
In addition, she urged BAM to support her organization's call to cut the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Budget – currently 40% of the Duval budget – and redeploy the savings to provide infrastructure, schools, services and jobs to the city's high crime areas.
Watch the meeting here and check out these links for more information:
Jacksonville Community Action Committee's Community Control of the Police Report most recently presented to Mayor Curry & JSO.
Washington Post: Here's What Defund the Police Really Means. June 7, 2020
New York Times: How to Reform Policing – A Discussion. June 13, 2020
The Northside Coalition video about Jacksonville protests against police brutality.
Ben Frazier’s bio.