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A brand new veterans group, Veterans for Black Lives Matter, organized themselves in Florida today in honor of black veterans killed after returning home from war. 

The group of veterans in Jacksonville chose Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the liberation of slaves in America,  as their day to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement because of its historical significance, citing it as the perfect day to educate the community about other crimes against African Americans which may not be so well known. 

“It’s Juneteenth, and because it took two and a half years for African Americans in the state of Texas to be informed that ‘you’ve been free for two and a half years,’ we thought taking a look at what other things that maybe African Americans did not know or other people in the community did not know, and one thing is maybe how many people did not know that those two people who were lynched were actually veterans,” event organizer Pat McCollough said to News4Jax on Friday.

According to the Florida Times-Union, on September 8th, 1919, less than a year after WWI, two African American WWI veterans, Bowman Cook and John Morine, were drug out of the Duval County jail after being accused of murder. The angry mob was searching for an African American child molester, who had already been moved out of town, but settled for Cook and Morine when the molester could not be found. Cook and Morine were subsequently killed by the mob. 

“John Morine’s body was left in a ditch while Bowman Cook was dragged through the streets of our city. Their murders have never been solved. Imagine that. All those witnesses and accomplices and no accountability for our veterans,” said one speaker at the veteran’s event. 

“I urge all veterans to support the Black Lives Matter issue here in Jacksonville,” said another speaker. 

Veterans for Black Lives Matter is currently 20-members-strong and wants to defund the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, change the name of schools named after Confederates and expunge criminal records. 

“Black Lives Matter. Black lives have always mattered, but now we’re here to tell you that we’re speaking up, we’re speaking out that Black Lives Matter,” said McCollough.

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