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Activists across the region rally, march downtown
Groups unite to call attention to poverty, racism, juvenile justice and violence
Downtown justice rally
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
Community leaders from across the region rallied and marched today from downtown Hemming Plaza to the steps of the courthouse. Forty groups have joined an alliance with the Southern Movement Assembly to talk about issues like juvenile justice, minority incarceration and several high profile killings.
Together they made the call for justice in high-profile cases, like those of Christian Fernandez, Marissa Alexander, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin. Members of the Southern Movement Assembly say there stories all share a common thread.
“We are dealing with a new form of slavery, when brothers and sisters all being incarcerated or killed at a high rate, it’s just not right, and if you look at Jacksonville Florida, and the cases of juvenile justice, it’s the highest in the nation” said Aleta Alston-Toure who is a Southern Movement Assembly organizer.
Under one umbrella, the different community groups came together to bring attention to issues like the minimum maximum jail sentences, the stand your ground law, and gay and lesbian rights.
”We are not hear to complain, we are here to say these are the things that are not OK and families are hurting. It’s happening all across the south, and that’s why we are here in Jacksonville,” said Caitlin Breedlove who works with Southerners On New Ground.
”We’ve talked to others in jail about people being wrongly incarcerated, and something needs to be done,” said Shirley Reed.
Reed says her grandson, Travis Swanson, is serving a 22-year sentence for the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man. She says the teenager was wrongfully convicted and received a penalty too harsh for a high school student.
His conviction is under appeal.
”We are here to support, for action, especially when we hear stories of Travis and other youth,” said Reed.
The group marched from Hemming Plaza to the Duval County Courthouse focusing on solutions for poverty, racism and violence. Each with a different story, but united still the same.
”We can talk about it with our elected officials, but we have to come together as a people,” said Toure.