Nearly 100 Gainesville residents marched University Avenue with banners and signs Feb. 2, all demanding justice for Marcus Goodman, an Alachua County Jail inmate whose death is under investigation.
As protesters moved from corner to corner, officers followed, directing traffic. Herman Goodman, Marcus' father, soon approached officers and shouted in anger.
“When you see my face, remember you killed my son,” Herman Goodman said. “Remember this: I am not afraid to f–ing die.”
The city mourned the death of 32-year-old Goodman after the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office announced his death in jail Jan. 26. The service began with a vigil at Bo Diddley Plaza and ended with a street protest around the block.
Convicted in 2021 over burglary charges, Goodman spent the majority of his jail time at North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center as a result of his severe mental illnesses.
Goodman was ordered to forcibly receive schizophrenia medication Jan. 20 by Judge Phillip Pena but didn’t receive treatment as he was transferred to Alachua County Jail, according to his notice of voluntary dismissal.
Days later, Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. released a statement that Goodman died of a “medical emergency.”
Despite an ongoing ACSO internal investigation and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into his death, Goodman’s relatives said they received minimal information.
Herman Goodman said the information detectives did tell the family was often misleading.
“He would tell you one thing one minute, and what he would do is just leave out things,” Herman Goodman said.
Instead, activist and event organizer Danielle Chanzes and April Johnson, Marcus Goodman’s sister, said inmates in the jail told them officers used a taser on Marcus right before his death. Marcus Goodman had no known physical conditions, according to the family.
“Why did you not say ‘sorry’?” Johnson yelled to the crowd. “Officer Connor, Officer Logan, step up. I know who you are.”
Alachua County Jail has seen multiple allegations of poor conditions for inmates, including an instance where an inmate lost her child after giving birth in the facility. The jail is also understaffed, with 246 employees to oversee an 800-inmate jail, according to Gainesville Sun reports.
ACSO spokesperson Rebecca Butscher declined to comment. FDLE spokesperson Dana Kelly also declined to comment on its investigation, citing that it’s ongoing.
After multiple activists spoke to the crowd about mental health, police reform and ending incarceration, the crowd began to march in a peaceful protest around University Avenue, blocking traffic.
The crowd shouted in call-and-response, “Say his name, Marcus Goodman,” while holding posters and banners, stopping at intersections to speak.
Activists felt the energy came from continued instances of police brutality.
Chanzes said she was moved by the overwhelming turnout.“I was really surprised by the amount of support that was out here,” Chanzes said.
Erika Miller, a member of the anti-incarceration organization Florida Prisoner Solidarity said the large attendance showed a want for systemic change.
“The same cycle is happening over and over again,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter what uniform they wear, what badge they hide behind.”
While impassioned and angry during the protest, Goodman’s family left the plaza silent and somber.
Despite the continued injustices, progress can only come from a local level, Herman Goodman said.“Change is hard,” Herman Goodman said. “You really got to start at home.”
Johnson confirmed Feb. 3 she hadn’t heard from officers since an initial discussion following Goodman’s death.
“Still silence,” she wrote in a text message.
Goodmans’ family started a GoFundMe to raise funds to cover funeral expenses. As of Sunday night, it has raised more than $4,690 of its $20,000 goal.
Contact Aidan Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.
Aidan Bush is a junior journalism major and the University Editor at The Alligator. He previously edited and wrote for the Metro desks. When he has free time, he likes to sleep.