JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A cellphone video appears to show a Mother’s Day fight breaking out at Lonnie C. Miller Park in Northwest Jacksonville. Now state Rep. Angie Nixon is getting involved to help fix a larger concern about safety.
The video (https://www.facebook.com/polo.flo.5/videos/1023198041929008), which has more than two million views, shows dozens of people gathered at the park. Neighbors said it happens often on Sundays.
“I don’t feel comfortable coming here on Sundays,” Terrencia Porter, a mother, said while enjoying the park with her kids Thursday. “This is a place where they burn off some energy and have fun and spend time with their family, and do whatever they want to do.”
Nixon, who lives in the area, said her family often visits the park and she hosts events there. She saw the video now going viral on social media.
“I think folks just come and congregate and they have fun, right? Which there’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to make sure people are safe,” she said.
Gatherings like what happened on Mother’s Day are typical on most Sundays at the park, according to neighbors.
“It has become a lot recently, especially as it warms up,” Nixon said. “I think it just goes to speak to the larger issue of the lack of investment in infrastructure and development in northwest Jacksonville.”
She recently heard from neighbors and community activists, like the Northside Coalition’s Ben Frazier, who opposed a fifth liquor store on Soutel Drive, right next to Lonnie Miller Park.
“There’s not a lot of options for amenities... in northwest Jacksonville.”
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office CrimeMapping tool, there have been at least nine assaults in a one-mile radius around the park in the past month. Nixon said it’s important for youth to have a safe place to go, especially with the recent string of shootings impacting teens.
She’s working with the City of Jacksonville to fix the issue.
In a statement, the mayor’s office told Action News Jax that the gathering Sunday was not a permitted event and city officials are “... currently reviewing the policies to ensure the safety of citizens at all of our area parks.”
After our story aired, Nixon shared the following statement on Facebook:
“I know folks may be upset, but like I said earlier this week, my number one priority right now is safety. The park was over capacity on Sunday and has been the past few weeks. I understand this has been going on for years, but if not now, when?
“If that fight had went another way, folks may be burying people. If one of these neighborhood beefs which are spilling out everywhere now, managed to make it to the park because of a stray bullet or a target in the area…again we could be burying folks.
“Like I stated to the news and city officials, this speaks to the larger issue of the lack of development and things to do in northwest Jacksonville. This needs to be and will be addressed because it’s the right thing to do.
“I am actively working with them on solutions.
“Yes we need to develop downtown, but not at the detriment of our other communities.
“(sn: I will never share a video or speak down to my people. We have been through so much historically and we deserve to enjoy ourselves and relax. But we also deserve to be safe.)”
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