Cleanup, curfew and injuries following unrest in Florida
Deputies were recovering from injuries, nightly curfews were issued and the cleanup of smashed store windows began Sunday around Florida after a night of unrest throughout the state’s cities that followed protests in response to the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.
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. A sheriff’s office spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the deputy’s condition Sunday morning.
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. A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy was injured when he was struck by a firework and another deputy was sent to the hospital after being hit in the back of the head by a hard object, the sheriff’s office tweeted.
Officers arrested 41 people, and more than two dozen police cars were damaged, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Sunday.
Along with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Dugan said he had marched with protesters on Saturday before the unrest started at night. The police chief urged “peaceful” protesters to stay at home on Sunday.
“The civil unrest was just so disappointing. I’m at a loss of words over the whole thing,” Dugan said at a news conference. “If you’re a peaceful protester, I’m asking you to stay home. Do not come out. It’s a different tone right now.”
Nightly curfews were issued in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous county, and Leon County, where a pickup truck drove through a crowd of protesters Saturday in Florida’s capital.
Protests on Saturday demanding justice for George Floyd also took place in dozens of cities across the nation. A Minneapolis officer, who is seen on video pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd begged for air, was charged Friday in Floyd’s death.
During a peaceful protest in West Palm Beach, about 250 people marched, some held signs with Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and one person pulled the American flag off a flagpole, shredded it and tried to light it on fire in front of City Hall.
In Orlando, police officers used tear gas to clear protesters off a highway Saturday evening. Some windows of stores near the Millennial Mall were smashed.
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. A small number came from out of state, including Minnesota, Michigan and New York.
Miami city workers on Sunday were seen cleaning the streets of debris left from the protests.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a curfew Saturday night that will be in place daily from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Rosa Jimenez Cano suspected something was wrong when Miami’s main protest was scheduled to end and a large group continued heading over to Interstate 95. She decided to go home, saying the protest had been peaceful.
“I was a little scared,” said Jimenez Cano, 39, a venture capitalist.
She said she felt it was important to speak out against the police brutality in Floyd’s death and stand with fellow black Americans. But as darkness fell, the protest erupted into violence.
“Now I think that maybe people are doing things that aren’t really connected to that. Going to Bayside and looting I don’t really see the connection,” she said, referring to the Miami shopping center.
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