Tomorrow: Protest for Corey Jones in Palm Beach Gardens (Update)
Palm Beach Gardens Police says they are making the proper accommodations for protestors who show up to Thursday's demonstration.. According to a release, the PBGPD says the City has reserved a large area adjacent to City Hall for those who are going to protest to gather. They are also providing a stage, podium and microphone for the event.
"The City recognizes the immense sorrow and grief that the family of Mr. Corey Jones is experiencing at this time, and the public concern about the October 18 events that led to Mr. Jones' death," the statement reads.
Police say they will also be providing water, temporary restroom facilities, and will have traffic control.
A protest has been planned in support of Corey Jones, the 31-year-old South Florida musician who was gunned down by a Palm Beach Gardens plain clothes police officer late Sunday night.
The protest is being called to begin on Thursday at at 10 a.m. outside Palm Beach Gardens City Hall, located at 10500 N. Military Trail.
News of the protest began to spread through social media with the hashtag #JusticeforCorey on Tuesday, after news of Jones' death began to make headlines.
It's not entirely clear who is organizing the protest. Fort Lauderdale protesters Dream Defenders tells New Times they believe the idea for a protest originally came from Bible Church of God, the Boynton Beach congregation Jones attended with his family. A call to Bible Church of God was not immediately returned. According to WPBF, the Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited to attend.
Still, Urban League-Palm Beach County President Patrick Franklin is making sure the protest will be a peaceful one.
According to the Palm Beach Post, he and Vice President of Development and Communication Kate Watt went to City Hall on Wednesday to scout the area, and speak with police.
"Every case is different," Franklin said in a press conference following his scouting the area. "Every situation is different. There are a million and one situations that can happen to anyone at any given time and, unfortunately, it happened here. And we will do our best to make sure that it doesn't escalate beyond just the normal process."
"This is Palm Beach County," Franklin added. "We hope that we've done enough preparations in our work in the past to avoid and prevent anything like Ferguson. That's what our plans are. How do we avoid anything like that from happening here in Palm Beach County,"
Rep. Shevrin D. Jones, a member of the Florida House of Representatives who represents the 101st District, has called on the state to open an investigation into the shooting. Citing a body-camera law that requires officers to wear body cameras, Rep. Jones called on his fellow lawmakers to open an inquiry into the shooting.
Gov. Rick Scott has offered his assistance in the investigation.
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According to Scott's Communication Director, Jackie Schutz, Scott spoke with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and 15th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Dave Aronberg, offering assistance in the two ongoing investigations by the State Attorney’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
"Our office continues to monitor any developments," Schutz says.
An online petition demanding justice for Jones has been launched.
Meanwhile, a gofundme campaign purportedly to help assist Jones' family in funeral costs, has been launched. The campaign is looking to reach $10,000 So far, it's raised $1,995 in the last two days.
According to the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department version of events, officer Nouman Raja was on duty late Sunday night, around 3:15 a.m., when he stopped to investigate what looked to him like an abandoned car on the southbound exit ramp of I-95 and PGA Boulevard. Police say when Raja exited his unmarked vehicle, he was "suddenly confronted by an armed subject."
The subject, they say, was Jones. Raja opened fire during the confrontation, killing Jones, according to police. Apparently, Jones' car had stalled out on him.
"Per department policy, the officer is currently on paid administrative leave, and an independent investigation is being conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office," Palm Beach Gardens Police said, regarding more information on the incident. "No additional information at this time."
Still, questions remain and details are fuzzy.
According to CNN, an anonymous source says that Raja — who was dressed in plain clothes and driving in an unmarked police car — may have failed to properly identify himself as a police officer to Jones.
The source says that investigators believe Raja, who had been investigating a series of burglaries in the area, failed to identify himself properly.
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