According to Fox News 13 in Tampa Bay, FL, there were some issues after a planned protest in Lakeland turned into “civil unrest” over the weekend. The Lakeland Police Department reported:
The Lakeland Police Department said a planned protest Sunday of about 100 people in Munn Park was peaceful and lawful. The group moved to the police station, which continued with no issues. However, some of those involved split off from the group and began blocking traffic at Florida Boulevard, which turned from citizens expressing their first amendment right to unlawful activity.
Lakeland PD said officers tried to disperse the crowd, but the sheriff’s office was called in to help clear the intersection.
Sheriff Judd said he does not believe Polk County residents were the ones creating the problems.
Afterward, Polk County officials responded by declaring a local state of emergency and issuing a curfew.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held a press conference and told reporters they had “received information that law enforcement would come under attack at 8 p.m. near Interstate 4 and Highway 27, but the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol were ready.” He said, “there were rumblings on social media that rioters planned to bring violence into the neighborhoods of Polk County.”
He explained that “there’s a difference between a protester and a rioter and rioting will not be accepted.”
And he wanted to issue a clear warning to rioters and looters:
We are going to hunt you down and lock you up if you engage in any criminal conduct.
I would tell them, if you value your life, they probably shouldn’t do that in Polk County. Because the people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be in their homes tonight with their guns loaded, and if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I’m highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns. So, leave the community alone.
And we’ll do our best to support the community, but ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake about it. All of that ugliness has taken away from what we’re united about. We’re united about the conduct that you saw with George [Floyd] where his life was taken with a knee to the neck. It’s horrific and there’s not enough words to explain that. Let’s [continue] to focus on that.
If I were a rioter or a looter, I would take this man at his word.
"The people in Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns… And if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I'm highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns." STORY: https://t.co/NjG4Frlphy pic.twitter.com/KH0g3X0POC
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) June 1, 2020