Gov. Ron DeSantis has activated the Florida National Guard in response to protests that engulfed the nation this weekend.
DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré, tweeted Sunday that the Governor activated the guardsmen the day before. Sunday afternoon, 100 guardsmen arrived in Tampa at the request of Mayor Jane Castor. The Governor also activated 350 guardsmen in the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center near Starke and 140 in Miramar to respond across the state if necessary.
“These specially trained units support law enforcement in various ways such as traffic and crowd control, all that is necessary for preserving the peace and public safety,” Ferré said in a statement to Florida Politics, adding that the guardsmen are trained to diminish the threat of violence.
Protests, some turning into riots, have broken out across the country in outcry over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police last week.
Castor made the request to support critical infrastructure protection and local law enforcement, Ferré said. On Sunday, Castor called for a 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in response to Saturday night protests that turned violent.
The guardsmen arrived in Tampa about 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cities can request National Guard support through their county emergency management, the same process followed for hurricanes. The 490 guardsmen on call in Camp Blanding, a training base for the National Guard, and Miramar are prepared to respond across the state if needed.
The Governors of Minnesota, Kansas, Georgia and other states have called on the National Guard to keep the peace.
In Tallahassee on Saturday, a pickup truck accelerated into protesters, but no one was seriously injured. And in Jacksonville, which leered toward more protests Sunday, peaceful demonstrations turned violent.
The Guard was also on standby in the District of Columbia, where a crowd grew outside the White House and chanted curses at President Donald Trump. Some protesters tried to push through barriers set up by the U.S. Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue, and they threw bottles and other objects at officers wearing riot gear, who responded with pepper spray.
On Friday, the officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — but that appeared to provide little balm. Many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.