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America in Crisis

Gov. DeSantis’ first George Floyd remarks: Zero tolerance for rioting, looting

The Governor called Floyd’s murder “appalling.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday broke his silence on the death of George Floyd.

“Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting and looting,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “George Floyd’s murder was appalling, and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.”

Protests erupted across the country last week and into the weekend over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer. Many of those protests turned violent, with rioters looting and setting fires.

But the Governor remained quiet even as the sometimes violent protests roiled the country, including parts of Florida.

On Sunday, the Governor’s spokesperson told Florida Politics that the Governor had activated nearly 700 members of the Florida National Guard on Saturday. In Tampa, 100 guardsmen were deployed Sunday afternoon after Mayor Jane Castor requested assistance enforcing the curfew there.

On Monday, DeSantis announced 1,300 Florida Highway Patrol troopers were supporting local law enforcement

“We will continue to do everything necessary to keep residents safe,” he said.

Protests in Miami, Tampa and elsewhere across the state turned to looting and vandalism. In Tampa, 41 people were arrested as about 40 businesses were burglarized and looted, Police Chief Brian Dugan said.

The news release and tweet came after President Donald Trump spoke to Governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials Monday, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”

The President urged the Governors to deploy the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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