City says it had no choice but to break-up a protest over affordable housing

0
Affordable housing protest in Jacksonville disrupted when city workers throw props away

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Furniture was placed at the steps of city hall on Sunday to bring attention to the alarming number of evictions because of rising rent.

Chairs, tables and couches were removed from Jacksonville city hall by city workers who were called in on a Sunday morning. The furniture was placed there to illustrate what’s it’s like for the thousands of people being evicted. A city spokesperson told News4JAX, that they removed it because safety was their number one priority.

″The whole reason we are here with this whole stage set up is because when we go to city hall every week, they ignore us, but now that we have a stage set up, here they come,” an organizer with the group Florida Rising said.

The group strategically placed furniture at city hall. Demonstrators placed 26 chairs, tables and couches to highlight the 2600 evictions, that have occurred in the Jacksonville area since January according to Evictionlab.com.

Ad

Courtesy photo (City of Jacksonville)

“We are going to take this to city hall, let the city council know at this time,” organizer Christian Gonzalez-Orbegoso said.

Gonzalez-Orbegoso told News4JAX he’s calling on the Jacksonville city council to declare a housing state of emergency. He says the removal of the donated furniture came as a surprise. City leaders tell News4JAX today they did so for public safety.

A city spokesperson provided us with photos showing how the furniture was positioned, saying this was in violation of the city’s fire code because the entrance and exit doors were completely blocked. When demonstrators refused to remove the furniture when asked — that’s when a city spokesperson told News4JAX they had no other choice than to do it themselves to ensure public safety.

Courtesy photo. (City of Jacksonville)

″Right now those in leadership are bullies, and it goes to show that they are more interested in picking fights with a mouse.” Angie Nixon who was a guest speaker for the event says leadership is failing the people of Florida at the state and local level. A city spokesperson tells News4JAX the building was occupied at the time of event Sunday morning, something Angie Nixon contests.

Ad

“The only person we saw go in was Brian Hughes (Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer),” Nixon said. “And that was after people started proclaiming shame, shame, and that was after he brought in city workers on a Sunday, to pay them overtime, to remove and evict Florida Rising from their action, as opposed to using city workers to address the poor drainage that’s running rampant in Northwest Jacksonville, and city workers to ensure our public parks are clean. “

A spokesperson for the City of Jacksonville said they are storing the furniture they confiscated for 48 hours if members of Florida Rising want to pick it up. The group says the furniture was donated to them by various people who agree the housing crisis deserves more attention.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here