Jacksonville rallies for justice for Devon Gregory and community control of the police
Jacksonville, FL – On December 11, activists both locally and nationally joined the family of Devon Gregory, an 18-year-old Black man shot 35 times by four Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers, in a day of action for Devon.
Earlier that day at around 11 a.m., Gregory’s family was joined by their attorney, Kevin O’Conner, and organizers from various groups for a press conference on the steps of city hall.
The demands were for a federal investigation of the case, as well as an end to protections for killer cops that are currently in the Florida Officers’ Bill of Rights, so that evidence such as the remaining body camera footage can be subpoenaed by other agencies outside of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Continuing these demands, the Day for Devon pushed on with a 6 p.m. rally at the Duval County Courthouse. Over 275 people gathered to remember Devon’s life as well as demand the state attorney indict the killer cops.
“Jacksonville is a new battleground,” Bishop Tavis Grant of Rainbow Push Coalition-Chicago said to the crowd. “We can no longer have these militarized zones in cities across the country, particularly here in Jacksonville. We must unite around this nation in cities such as this and send the leaders a message.”
Attorney Kevin O’Conner spoke about the frustrations that legal representation for families of police victims face by being denied access to evidence in a timely manner. “I once had a case where the original report said a police shooting was justified, but upon receiving all of the video evidence in a timely manner, we were able to prove the initial report was a lie and there was justice for that family. But with Devon’s case, it’s already been almost a month – it’s disrespectful to the family, to the community and to the justice process.”
“We need to continue to push for the abolishment of the Florida Officers’ Bill of Rights, outdated legislation that gives police extra protections when they commit a crime against the community. And while we push for the destruction of Jim Crow remnants, we must also push for the creation of a Jacksonville Police Accountability Council to ensure community control of the police,” stated Christina Kittle with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee.
Kittle continued “With community control of the police in the form of such council, external investigations with access to the same raw evidence as the state attorney would even the power imbalance and ensure transparency.”
Families who have suffered from other various of police crimes were also in attendance to show solidarity with Devon Gregory’s family, including the family of Marcellis Stinnet, a Jacksonville man killed by police outside of Chicago; the mother of Leah Baker, a young woman killed by five-time killer-cop JSO John Nobles; the mother of Vernell Bing Jr., a young man killed by two-time killer-cop JSO Tyler Landreville; and Brittany Williams, a survivor of police brutality perpetuated by the same killer cop, Tyler Landreville, that killed Vernell Bing Jr.
Many groups were involved in the December 11 action, including the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, The Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, The Rainbow Push Coalition, Black Lives Matter-Jacksonville, BLM-Alabama and BLM-Lake County Chicago, Women’s March Jacksonville, and others
Follow up actions are being planned for January of 2021.