6 arrested amid scuffles at antiwar protest in Jacksonville, Florida (VIDEO)
On Friday evening, a group of up to 200 people gathered at Hemming Park in Jacksonville, chanting “Hands off Syria!” and “No justice, no peace, US out of the Middle East!”
But the crowd was confronted by a group of counter-protesters, one of them waving a Donald Trump flag, which is what apparently provoked the fight. In the subsequent brawl over the flag police officers got involved and were themselves attacked, being punched, kicked, and in one case reportedly choked, as they tried to split up the two groups.
Some witnesses criticized the officers for excessive use of force, and one officer was seen repeatedly punching a protester in the ribs as he was restrained.
“It should have been resolved way better than it was. There shouldn’t have been no fighting,” witness Tavaris Beaver told The Florida Times-Union. “For the police to beat another guy and slam another woman, I don’t think there’s no peace in that.”
According to Beaver, a woman trying to break up the fight was herself arrested.
“The only thing the girl was doing was breaking it up, but she gets slammed on the ground and put in handcuffs,” Beaver said.
Six people were altogether detained and charges with crimes including resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and in one case, marijuana possession.
“Emergency” protests broke out across America on Friday, largely organized on social media by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, which called the US assertion that the Syrian government carried out attacks on its own people “unsubstantiated” and demanded an independent investigation. The Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, which organized the Hemming Park protest, says it plans to hold further demonstrations.