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Jacksonville sets curfew at city parks after Public Square protest

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Protesters on Jacksonville's Public Square on Monday. The city on Tuesday announced an 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for city parks, including the square. 

The city of Jacksonville announced Tuesday it will impose a curfew at city parks beginning the next evening.

According to a public notice posted on the city’s website, parks will be closed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. The notice came the day after dozens of protesters gathered at the Public Square in Jacksonville in response to the death of George Floyd. Jacksonville police Chief Marcus Wood said the curfew applied to the Public Square.

Floyd was killed May 25 during an arrest by Minneapolis police. A video of the incident shows former Minneapolis officer Derick Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s next for several minutes. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The incident has touched off waves of protest around the country over police violence against African Americans, with some of the protests turning violent.

Wood said no issues arose from Monday’s protest at the Public Square, but he had concerns about the safety of another protest, planned for next Monday.

“While I would say 95 percent of that planning seems to be peaceful ... there is a percentage planning to come to the protest with less-than-peaceful intentions,” Wood said.

Wood said he did not discourage anyone from protesting peacefully. He said the curfew was enacted to ensure those protesters and others are safe. 

“I’m not saying not to protest, but I do think it’s necessary to have some stipulations,” Wood said. 

Wood said the curfew was also the result of vandalism at the city’s skate park on Coffee Street within the past week.

“We have to take a proactive step in protecting city property,” he said. 

Wood said there’d previously been an “unwritten rule” that parks closed at night, but it was difficult to enforce.

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563.