‘We need to take action’: Protesters respond to SCOTUS decision at Jacksonville rally

Carter Mudgett and Darvin Nelson

Waist-high orange barricades drew a line down the middle of the Duval County Courthouse lawn as hundreds of protesters rallied in downtown Jacksonville Friday evening. With signs raised in the air, their chants echoed loudly off surrounding buildings as they protested the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

Organized by Women’s March Jacksonville, protesters listened to community members, young activists and state representatives talk before marching through the streets of Jacksonville.

Speakers discussed how the Supreme Court’s decision would dramatically affect lower-income people and people of color. 

Florida House of Representatives Member Angie Nixon was among the slew of speakers who told their stories, spreading a message of unity and action among the crowd. 

“My body, my choice!” Nixon chanted. “We got some guests behind me right now. They seem to be talking about they care about life. They say they care about life. But I want you all to know that this ruling today is not about supporting life at all.

 “[…] If it was really about supporting life, we would have free comprehensive healthcare for all […] I know a lot of us are sad today, but we cannot be paralyzed,” she said. “We need to take action and not live in fear. We don’t need to be helpless and hopeless, that’s what they want. We need to use this righteous anger and frustration and turn it into action. ”

Other speakers also highlighted the necessity of showing up to vote in the upcoming elections and how this decision was only the beginning of legislation passed against transgender and other LGBTQIA+ groups. 

“I’m out here because this is something that affects everyone, it doesn’t matter your race it doesn’t matter your gender and, genuinely, this is impacting working and poor class people the most,” 25-year-old Tionna Jefferson said. 

“We’re out here today with [Students for a Democratic Society] to say we’re not going to take this anymore,” the University of North Florida Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) member explained. “We’ve been seeing it creep up on us, and at this point, we need to mobilize, so it’s really good to see everyone out in the streets.”

Tionna Jefferson speaks to a crowd
Tionna Jefferson, 25, speaks before a crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest for abortion rights on Friday, June 24, 2022. Jefferson is a University of North Florida alumni and member of Students for a Democratic Society. (Darvin Nelson)

“This [is] not just about women, we need male allies,” another speaker yelled. “[To all males here ] thank you for coming out here, but next time bring your friends, for F***s sake!”

As the rally went on, people with packs of water bottles, megaphones and countless signs joined to form a crowd that eventually grew well into the hundreds. Numerous cars honked their support as they passed. 

“I’m mad as hell,” Florida State Representative Tracie Davis told the emotional crowd. “The only way we are going to stop the attacks is to remove the attacks. The only way to stop the attackers is to remove the attackers.”

“Fight fight fight, abortion is a right,” echoed across downtown Jacksonville as protesters took their message to the streets for a march, spreading their anger. 

Molly Kirkwood, 18, criticized pro-lifers that are “fighting so hard for kids that are unborn” when there are kids already living but have been left behind. 

“You need to fight for the kids who are already here and leave people alone and let people make decisions for their body. You don’t get a say,” she said. “[…] I just think they need to be fighting for the kids who are already here and doing everything they can to make sure that they’re okay and that they’re safe.”

Peacekeepers in white and volunteers dubbed safety marshals in yellow vests dotted the crowd, ensuring protesters stayed safe and hydrated in the hot, humid weather. 

People in yellow safety vests hold megaphones and distribute water from a black tent to give to protesters
In this Friday, June 24, 2022 photo, volunteers collect at a tent to get yellow safety vests. These safety marshals walked among the crowd of protesters to ensure everyone was hydrated and staying safe under the hot sun. “I’m just out here trying to make sure everyone stays hydrated,” one volunteer told Spinnaker. (Darvin Nelson)

One safety marshal told Spinnaker they didn’t know much about the issue but wanted to help people regardless. 

“I’m just out here trying to make sure everyone stays hydrated,” they said. 

Protesters who came to support the Supreme Court’s decision were vastly outnumbered by those in support of abortion rights, although their alotted space evenly split. Every attempt to make their joy at the Supreme Court’s decision public, they were quickly drowned out by the crowd on the other side of the barricades. 

A pro-choice protester walked along the back of the crowd yelling “repent [your sins],” to which many members of the crowd turned around and told them to leave. 

“Goodbye!” multiple protesters yelled in response.

Protesters hold up a large horizontal banner that reads "Jacksonville Community Action Committee, Community Control of the Police" next to a graphic of a black raised fist
Protesters hold up a banner that later led the front of the march through downtown Jacksonville. Rallying in support of abortions rights, people flocked to the Duval County Courthouse to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Justin Nedrow)

Protesters in Jacksonville join thousands more across Florida and the entire country as Americans attempt to deal with the rush of emotions this decision brings. More protests are expected from the Capitol to California as another is already scheduled for Jacksonville. 

The “Proud to Say Gay Rally,” organized by the Trans Awareness Project, will happen in front of the Duval County Courthouse at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, according to an Instagram post.


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