“Civil Rights in the Era of the Jax5”
The UNF Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hosted a panel discussion, April 25 2017, titled “Civil Rights in the Era of the Jax5.” The Jax5 are the five anti-war activists who were brutalized by police and arrested on April 7 in Jacksonville’s Hemming Park.
At the April 25 event, SDS brought together community organizers, student activists, professors and various student groups to discuss what happened April 7, and what it means for activists and the community of Jacksonville. Sponsored by six student groups, the event brought out about around 45 people involved in different movements. The support that this event received shows that students are interested in what is happening in the community, and this event helped bridge the divide between campus and community.
The panel discussion, moderated by SDS Vice President Aitana Arguedas, included, John Phillips, a lawyer in the Jax5 case; Wells Todd of Veterans for Peace; John Aloszka of the UNF Dems; David Jaffee, a professor of sociology at the university, and Ryan McClure of SDS.
After attendees helped themselves to the buffet and were seated, they were treated to a live rap show courtesy of South Georgia revolutionary rap artists, The People's Vanguard. This group works closely with the Progressive Coalition and participates in Jacksonville protests. Rag Mathis of the rap group said, “Only those who understand, that together everyone achieves more, will witness and rejoice in freedom and liberation.”
Afterward attendees watched a video highlighting the year's events, protests and marches. People applauded the victorious anti-racism campaign to rename Nathan B. Forrest High School. The new name is Westside High School. The video also showed the massive rallies in Jacksonville in outrage against the Israeli bombing of Palestine and police killing of Mike Brown over the past summer. From demanding “Hands off Syria” to winning a conviction for the white vigilante killer of African American youth Jordan Davis, the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition had a busy and successful year.
Master of ceremonies Estafania Galvis recognized organizers from the anti-war, labor, queer liberation and African American freedom movements for their contributions to the growing struggle in Jacksonville. Organizers Fern Figueroa and Richard Blake presented many awards. Wells Todd, Etta Ettlinger, Willie Hager, Bill Miniutti and Karen Morian received Longtime Freedom Fighter Awards for their dedication to the struggle and willingness to continue training newer activists.
The night concluded with a rousing speech by organizer Dave Schneider. “Although all of us here have very different struggles, we all gather here tonight because we know that together we are stronger to fight our common enemy. We live in a world where more and more of us are realizing that the people have the power to throw this rotten system away and replace it with something better.”