A participant in a pro-Palestinian protest in Riverside is now in police custody following an altercation with a counter-protester, as reported by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The Jacksonville Palestine Solidarity Network, known for organizing peaceful protests throughout the city since the onset of the conflict between Hamas and Israel on Oct. 7, experienced an escalation during this particular rally.
The incident occurred around 5 p.m. on Sunday, merely one hour into the rally, when a protester engaged in a heated dispute with a counter-protester, according to JSO. The protester allegedly took the counter-protester’s megaphone, struck her in the head with it, and then discarded the megaphone into a nearby river. Subsequently, the protester retrieved a gun from his waistband.
An officer who witnessed part of the altercation promptly intervened and took the protester into custody. Detectives have announced that the protester will face charges of robbery by sudden snatching, encompassing the assault with the megaphone within the charge.
JSO Sgt. Karen Dukes addressed queries about potential assault charges, clarifying that assault is considered part of the robbery charge, emphasizing that without the use of force, it would be categorized as a theft.
Sgt. Dukes emphasized JSO’s support for individuals exercising their First Amendment rights, expressing the desire for both protesters and counter-protesters to express their opinions peacefully. However, she underscored the importance of respecting the law, especially when actions lead to injuries or property damage. Sgt. Dukes delineated the line where the right to protest meets legal boundaries, emphasizing the significance of maintaining order and preventing harm during such events.