Cleanup, curfew and injuries following unrest in Florida
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

AP Floyd Central Florida Cleanup
Protests were largely peaceful across the state Sunday.

Deputies were recovering from injuries, nightly curfews were issued and another round of protests began around Florida on Sunday after a night of unrest throughout the state’s cities in response to the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said an unnamed deputy was either stabbed or slashed in the neck and was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday evening.

In Tampa, protesters on Saturday night threw rocks at first responders, burglarized 40 businesses and set fire to a gas station and a sporting-clothes store at a shopping mall. Two Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies were injured, more than two dozen police cars were damaged and 41 people were arrested.

A nightly curfew was issued in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous county, and Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he would postpone the reopening of the county’s beaches until the curfew order is lifted. The county’s beaches had been scheduled to reopen Monday for the first time since March when they were closed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Curfews also were issued for Orlando and Leon County, where a pickup truck drove through a crowd of protesters Saturday in Florida’s capital of Tallahassee.

Protests on Saturday demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck, also took place in dozens of cities across the nation. A Minneapolis officer was charged Friday in Floyd’s death.

In West Palm Beach, a group of protesters temporarily shut down busy Interstate 95 on Sunday. Officers in Fort Lauderdale used tear gas near a parking garage to break up what was a largely civil demonstration. But as the sun began to set, city officials everywhere braced for a potential night of unrest.

Protests were largely peaceful across the state Sunday with thousands gathering in Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Stuart and Tampa. Some organizers doubled safety efforts to counteract the violence of Saturday night.

In Tampa, Black Lives Matter organizers had nearly 100 safety marshals in fluorescent vests patrolling their march, trained in de-escalation tactics and ordered to be on the lookout for antagonists. The group also had medics, used walkie-talkies to quickly squelch outbursts and enlisted lawyers and those with legal training to watch out for protesters’ rights from the sidelines.

“We wanted to be able to provide a safe space for their voice and rage to be heard within a controlled environment. It’s part of their amendment rights for them to be able to express themselves,” said Chaikirah Parker, who helped organize the event.

The veteran activist said they purposely held the event early Sunday, despite sweltering heat, because it brought a more peaceful demographic. After the event was over, a younger crowd held another protest and the veteran activists felt obliged to help.

Their efforts came after a night of unrest across the country and state.

In South Florida, after protesters hurled rocks and bottles at officers and set squad cars on fire outside Miami Police headquarters Saturday night, transit officials said that all Miami-Dade public transit was being suspended on Sunday, including buses and light rail. At one point Saturday night, Interstate 95 was shut down in both directions as a group of protesters stood on the busy roadway. Videos on social media showed dozens of people breaking into stores at Bayside Marketplace, a popular outdoor shopping center in downtown Miami.

Miami-Dade Police arrested 57 people, and most were charged with violating curfew. Thirteen were from Miami the rest came from out of state, including Minnesota, Michigan and New York. Those from out of state seemed to be working together in what authorities called “coordinated communication” to incite unrest and had marbles and rocks in their bags.

In Miami, four officers were injured and 17 police vehicles were vandalized, including some that were set on fire. Miami city workers on Sunday were seen cleaning the streets of debris left from the protests.

Organizers of a Sunday afternoon protest in Lauderhill spent all night negotiating with city officials, assuring them it would be peaceful and safe. “But we came to an impasse and they said, ‘We’re not doing it anymore,’” said Rep. Shevrin Jones, an African American Democrat. “I was extremely upset.”

The protest was moved to nearby Fort Lauderdale.

Jasmen Rogers-Shaw was one of roughly 2,500 who showed up. She stressed the importance of “standing in solidarity with cases that are happening nationally, but also highlight what’s happening right here in our county and in Florida.”

The 30-year-old helped organize the event for Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, saying they passed out water, snacks and masks “to show people the power of community and that we can take care of each other and will.”

Miami Heat NBA star Udonis Haslem stood alongside Miami leaders Sunday and called for peaceful protests that night, saying violence and looting would not bring justice for Floyd.

“I want to be part of the solution,” he said, with his two young sons nearby. “You’ve got to part like the Red Sea when you see foolishness coming.”

Associated Press

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    June 1, 2020 at 6:21 am

    Williams and Curry rode around like the old masta. JSO is corrupt from years of Rutherford allowing systemic racism to control folks! Get out of the cars Williams and Curry. Arrest and lock up criminals in JSO! The list is long of jsocop criminals! Start with racist and domestic terrorist relt steve Mullens! Even with Mullens records And he still rides around harassing the black communities in Atlantic Beach JSO called him back to assist.

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