Jacksonville holds vigil for victims of police crimes
Nationwide response to police killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile
Jacksonville, FL – Over 100 community members and activists held a vigil for the victims of police crimes on the corner of N. Liberty Street and E. 9th Street on July 8. The evening vigil was planned in response to the cold-blooded murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by the police earlier that same week. Local victims of police crimes, including Vernelle Bing Jr. and D'Angelo Stallworth, were also commemorated.
Across the nation, people are outraged at the recent murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of the police. In Jacksonville, community members have been organizing around the killings of D'Angelo Stallworth since May 2015 and Vernell Bing Jr. since May 2016. Several organizations from around the city including the Kemetic Empire and the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition (JPC) were present at the vigil, along with activists from the LGBTQ, student, labor, anti-war and Palestinian movements. No one was deterred from attending the vigil despite over 15 Jacksonville Sheriff Office cars parked just two blocks up the street. A full lineup of speakers slammed racism and national oppression, speaking about the need to join organizations dedicated to fighting for social and economic justice.
Standing on the very intersection where the unarmed Vernelle Bing Jr. was gunned down by an officer of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office this past May, speakers urged the crowd to take action and organize their communities to stand against the racist killings of Black people. A leader of Black Educators for Justice, Master James X Muhammad, introduced the speakers and moderated the event.
The family and friends of both Vernell Bing Jr. and D'Angelo Stallworth were welcome participants at the vigil, which lasted for several hours. One of the speakers described an important contingent of Jacksonville organizers from the Kemetic Empire who were in Baton Rogue, Louisiana for the weekend to support the fight for justice after the murder of Alton Sterling.
The Jacksonville Progressive Coalition's own Denise Hunt was one of the speakers at the vigil. “We have to take down institutionalized racism, and I don't give a damn if that makes some of you uncomfortable. We have to do it and fight all forms of oppression and injustice,” she urged the crowd.
After the speakers, candles were lit and people offered them at the shrine dedicated to the memory of Vernell Bing Jr., for his family and the families of all victims of police crimes.