Local protesters will be joined by members of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement Saturday for a planned rally outside the offices of the Palm Beach Police Benevolent Association.
The protest is over union officials’ decision to pay for the criminal defense of Nouman Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer now facing manslaughter and attempted murder charges in the death of 31-year-old drummer Corey Jones, a stranded motorist Raja shot and killed in October while in plainclothes.
A Facebook page for Black Lives Matter Fort Lauderdale showed a post dated Monday urging supporters to show up to the offices at 2100 N Florida Mango Road in West Palm Beach for a protest to begin at 5 p.m.
The protest was organized by Michael C. Marsh, a childhood friend of Jones and author of the #JusticeforCoreyJones facebook page.
Clergy members throughout Palm Beach County are expected on Thursday to lead four sit-ins at local city halls to call attention to the controversies surrounding police uses of force, particularly in light of the recent killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five police officers killed in Dallas.
According to a news release, the sit-ins will begin at 3:30 p.m. simultaneously at city calls in Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.
One of the goals of the sit-in, community leaders said in the news release, is to “draw national attention to the abuse of power, as well as innocent people being unjustifiably arrested or killed by rogue police officers.”
Community leaders have cancelled a planned rally Thursday to protest Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s decision to refer to a grand jury the case of the police officer who shot Corey Jones.
The event, which was planned even before Aronberg announced last week that a grand jury panel will decide whether Nouman Raja will face criminal charges by the end of next month, was to come just days after the group Anonymous threatened Aronberg with calls and protests of their own unless he changed course.
Community leaders advertised the rally to be held at the Palm Beach State Attorneys office but announced online that it had been canceled. As of Thursday, no new date had been set.
Raja shot and killed Jones Oct. 18 after the now-fired officer drove up on him in the off-ramp of interstate 95 at PGA Boulevard. Jones’ SUV had broken down while he was on his way home from a professional drumming gig.
The State Attorney’s office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies began immediately investigating the shooting, and the FBI joined the probe soon afterward.
Prosecutors could have concluded on their own that Raja should face no criminal charges but could have also skipped the grand jury process and charged him directly. Community leaders after Aronberg’s decision said they felt he should have charged Raja.
A Facebook post Friday from the group Anonymous Florida threatened to flood Aronberg’s phones and social media outlets with messages if he didn’t either resign or charge Raja by Wednesday.
Aronberg so far has declined to comment on the group’s ultimatum.