Sheriff Mike Williams has sought to counter the findings of racial disparities in pedestrian ticketing with his own set of numbers. They don’t add up.
Reporting by The Florida Times-Union and ProPublica prompts the Legal Defense Fund to start on-the-ground interviews.
The effort comes as Jacksonville has seen controversial police shootings, arrests of activists and calls to suspend pedestrian ticketing in light of racial disparities.
Jacksonville City Council President and Local Public Defender Call for Suspension of Pedestrian Ticket Writing
A legal bulletin by the Jacksonville state attorney supports the finding that sheriff’s officers have been issuing hundreds of tickets in error, a disproportionate number of them to blacks.
Florida Police Issue Hundreds of Bad Pedestrian Tickets Every Year Because They Don’t Seem to Know the Law
The tickets for failing to cross in a crosswalk don’t just carry fines; they can damage credit rating and lead to the suspensions of driver’s licenses. A Florida Times-Union/ProPublica examination shows lots of them never should have been issued.
In Jacksonville, not paying your jaywalking ticket can cost you the ability to get to school or work. Again, blacks bear a disproportionate impact.
Concerns about targeted enforcement against African Americans come after a Florida Times-Union/ProPublica investigation.
C.J. Brown wrote four times as many pedestrian tickets as any other officer in Jacksonville over the last five years. Most of them went to blacks. His boss says he’s just “good at his job.”
Jacksonville’s enforcement of pedestrian violations raises concerns that it’s another example of racial profiling.
The city’s population is 29 percent black, but black pedestrians received 55 percent of the pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to July 2017. Looking at each type of ticket issued reveals even bigger disparities.
A truck driver, a mother, a lawyer and a number of young men offer their accounts of walking while black.