On last night’s evening news there was a report on the riot at Hemming Park this last week. The report named the protesters arrested, showed their mug shots, and detailed any previous arrest bullet points seemingly to make them look as guilty as possible. This was followed by comments supporting the actions of JSO by Gary Snow, a counter-protester who was involved in the incident. In fact, from what we can tell, he may have been the direct cause of the riot and walked away free.
Snow is a fervent Trump supporter who, according to CityXtra magazine publisher, is known to pull antics at protests and is an open and proud white supremacist on at least one of his alleged 5 different Facebook pages.
The mainstream news focused on what happened just after the chaos started since that is when most people starting filming and seem to speak more from police reports than investigation.
Shortly after the incident we shared a video posted by Catherine Corby to our Facebook page which showed more of what happened between Snow and anti-war protester Connelly Crooms which directly lead to the escalation and eventual riot.
We went back and re-watched that video and took some screen grabs to do a moment to moment break down from this perspective …
Gary Snow stepped up next to the event organizers, into their space, and tries to shout over them.
Snow purposefully waves his Trump flag toward and in front of the speaker to block them.
Snow then starts speaking on his own personal PA system which becomes a who-can-shout-louder match.
Behind these speakers it seems a masked protester grabs another Trump supporters flag, which Crooms notices before Snow lunges from the railing to aggressively go after the flag thief.
Crooms intervenes and gets in between them with arms spread wide and hands up. Snow has his arm on Crooms. An act of aggressive physical contact.
The person who’s flag was taken by the masked protester moves to the opposite corner of the elevated staging area. Crooms follows and Snow chases after him, which is when JSO finally begins to intervene, but not to arrest Snow.
Croom, Snow, and a JSO Officer end up in the far corner of the stage.
JSO turns Croom around
and points him back toward his place at the protest.
As Croom and JSO walk back toward the front
Croom turns around and appears to say something, either to the officer or Snow.
Snow then pushes his way around the officer and aggressively shoves his middle finger into Crooms face.
His gesture so forceful and so close it causes Crooms to lean backwards and the officer to use his left arm to block Snow. The second time Snow has instigated aggressive physical contact.
Reacting to this, Crooms lunges at Snow who recoils in fear before JSO grabs Crooms and flips him to the ground which sparked the melee that followed.
In our opinion, it looks like everyone involved had some fault in the results. But Snow was clearly a major aggressor.
JSO posted their justifications for each of the arrests in record time, and after watching the video we noticed a different story from what we saw compared to what they have accused Croom of …
This report does not mention Snow at all or account for the mounting aggravation by Snow that lead up to this, Crooms trying to step in between Snow and a protester to avoid violence, or Snow making aggressive moves toward Crooms which looks to have caused the situation that lead to the violence.
JSO themselves posted on Facebook that “It is unlawful to specially provoke people to commit any unlawful acts.”, which is exactly what Snow did. JSO sat on the sidelines and watched as Snow pushed his way into the protest, disrupted their free speech, made aggravated moves with physical contact, and baited the organizer into an altercation, and did not try and stop any of it until it was at a boiling point.
Protesters and counter protesters are often separated by police to avoid this exact sort of incident, and since by all accounts it seems Snow is a well known instigator at numerous other events, the incident was foreseeable and predictable. JSO failed to diffuse this as it’s start, then failed to handle it properly when it went awry. Mistakes are made, but they should own that and hold the appropriate officers accountable. Because, in their own words, “Failure to address criminal activity would serve as negative reinforcement to all involved parties.”
We agree 100% JSO.
Now go arrest Gary Snow and charge him with being a public nuisance for disrupting a legally held protest, inciting a riot, and assault.
JSO was wrong, Gary Snow was wrong, the masked protester was wrong and should have never touched their flags, and Crooms was wrong for loosing his cool and lunging at Snow after getting his finger in his face. All should be held culpable for their actions or inaction that led to this unnecessary and avoidable violence.
The one thing that should be agreed on is that Jacksonville and JSO could stand to take a long look at themselves after an incident like this and make sure we don’t continue to overreact and stand behind bad decisions for the sake of love or loyalty. Regardless of our political, religious, or social affiliations our one major commonality is that we are all Americans and citizens of a world growing in fear and uncertainty. Now more than ever it’s important we respect each others opinions and treat each other with fairness and understanding in light of and despite our differences.
That’s our opinion. Love it or hate it, it our right to say it. (For now at least)