#WalkingWhileBlack is not a crime
Jacksonville, FL – On June 20, Devonte Shipman, a young African American in Jacksonville, was stopped and harassed by police officers for simply walking across the street. Claiming to have seen him illegally cross the street, Officer J.S Bolen of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) harassed and badgered Shipman, even threatening him with jail time. Shipman recorded the encounter with his cellphone, a clip that went viral and made national and international news.
Currently, the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) is calling for its supporters as well as supporters of the national movement against police crimes to call in to the JSO to demand Sheriff Mike Williams terminate Officer Bolen for his blatant racial profiling and badgering of Shipman. Supporters say that #WalkingWhileBlack is not a crime.
On that day, Shipman got two tickets. One of the tickets was for jaywalking and the other for having a suspended license, although Shipman wasn’t even operating a motor vehicle.
“If I was Caucasian, would he have been so quick to jump out the car and say I’m going to jail?” Shipman asked. According to leaders in the JCAC, the answer to Shipman’s question is pretty clear.
“Without a doubt Devonte was profiled and stopped because he’s Black and JSO is very much racist police force,” said Joshua Parks, an activist with the JCAC. “We have been putting pressure on JSO since last week to fire this officer and we won’t stop until we get some real accountability.”
Just yesterday, Shipman received word from JSO that his ticket involving the suspended license was dropped because it was “made in error,” clearly a move done by JSO, bowing down due to widespread public condemnation and grassroots pressure. But the JCAC has vowed to not stop until there is real police accountability in Jacksonville.
“We are calling for community control of the police, a civilian police accountability council with the power to stop widespread police abuses by police officers like what happened with Devonte Shipman and countless others,” said Michael Sampson, with the Community Action Committee. “The current cornerstone of African American national oppression is police violence, which is why we need a real mass movement in the city against police crimes to address it in a real way.”
The Community Action Committee believes that the people should have the power over the police force, not the other way around. The CAC was recently created by grassroots activists to build a movement against police crimes as well as other issues that face the black and marginalized communities.
They are asking supporters to call into JSO at 904-630-0500 and demand Officer Bolen be fired, and also to demand an end to their practices of racial profiling by police.