ST. PETERSBURG, FL - June 2, 2020 - According to an online news report published on Baynews9.com, the St. Petersburg Police arrested four individuals at a protest held in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four individuals were charged with "Inciting a Riot." On Sunday night, protests were being held in front of the St. Petersburg police headquarters. There were moments when the protest became very tense. The area turned quickly from a peaceful protest into a violent riot where individuals were throwing bottles, rocks, and several other potentially dangerous items at police officers. The St. Petersburg police made 14 arrests that night.
According to the St. Petersburg police, law enforcement officers found three of the four suspects in a van, and they were in possession of weapons. Some of the weapons that could have been used as dangerous projectiles included glass bottles, a gas canister, bricks, liquor bottles, a metal pipe, and a bag filled with large rocks. St. Petersburg police believe these items were intended to be used as projectiles.
The four were arrested a few hours after the peaceful protests began and after approximately 150 other individuals assembled in front of the St. Petersburg police headquarters. This was at about 1 in the morning. St. Petersburg police stated that they received a tip warning law enforcement of the individuals in a van who possessed several dangerous projectiles. The St. Petersburg police stopped the van after receiving a tip, and the officers arrested three of the four individuals. The suspects were all around the age of 28 years of age. The last suspect was called the "protest organizer," and he was taken into police custody. All four suspects were arrested and charged with "Inciting a riot."
As the protest became tenser, automobiles began driving through concrete barricades, and law enforcement began shooting tear gas to disband the protestors. Fortunately, there were no injuries, looting, or property damage reported. According to statements made by the St. Petersburg police officials, law enforcement is prepared should the protests resume. The St. Petersburg police headquarters and certain streets are closed off and protected by steel barricades. At the moment of this article's publication, there has been no curfew decreed by government officials. According to the St. Petersburg police, the protest on Sunday night grew from about 70 people to a mob of over 200 in just a few minutes.
Rick Kriseman, Mayor of St. Petersburg, and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway both stated that if the protests became violent, this would not be tolerated, and law enforcement would take the appropriate actions. According to the news report, when the tone of the protest turned more violent, and protesters began throwing projectiles at St. Petersburg police, law enforcement utilized stingers, comparable to flashbangs, in an attempt to scatter the protestors who were continuing to throw items at the police. Sheriff's deputies with protective shields ultimately broke up the crowd.
Protests had exploded in the Florida Bay area and across the nation following the May 25 killing of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd, an African-American man, was killed in Minneapolis during the arrest made by a white law enforcement officer who was pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly ten minutes. Mr. Floyd is heard on videos showing his arrest pleading for air. The Minneapolis officer has been fired and is now charged with murder.