St. Petersburg police are still actively investigating an altercation between opposing demonstrators Saturday night that resulted in one man pulling out a gun, though no shots were fired.
St. Pete peace protest
Man pulls out gun. Doesn’t fire. pic.twitter.com/9hvJN4wC9U
— Add Your Name (@tr00p3rr) September 27, 2020
The incident, which has drawn national attention, occurred downtown on Beach Drive as demonstrators demanding racial justice clashed with a group of counterprotestors carrying American flags. According to the St. Pete police, a protestor pulled out a knife, which then prompted the man to pull out a gun. However, some at the demonstration said there was no knife.
Saturday marked another chapter in a tense week for downtown St. Pete. Wednesday night, hours after a grand jury announced only one officer would be charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, one viral video showed a protestor jumping on a car. Another showed protestors sitting down at Parkshore Grill at a table occupied by a couple having dinner. They were soon surrounded by a group of other demonstrators chanting “stand up, fight back.”
— The Hill (@thehill) September 25, 2020
Parkshore Grill responded to the incident on Instagram the following day.
View this post on Instagram
To our loyal patrons of Parkshore Grill, We are aware of the incident that took place in our outdoor dining area yesterday between two guests and protestors whom were walking down Beach Drive. Naturally, as a business the safety and comfort of our guests is always a priory. The police were on the scene yesterday as protests unfolded down our block, but we are continuing to work with Mayor Kriseman and the Chief of St. Pete Police to maintain a safe and peaceful environment to the best of our abilities. At Parkshore Grill we strive to provide a hospitable environment where we can all sit back socially distanced, and enjoy fine food, wine, and service together. This has been our goal since opening our doors and we are dedicated to creating the special experience for each and every one of our guests. Thank you for your consistent support and understanding.
Following those incidents, Mayor Rick Kriseman, along with other city leaders, decried the violence.
In St. Pete, we support peaceful protests. We will never support or tolerate lawbreakers who wish to dishonor the life of Breonna Taylor or anyone else. We will never support those who set out to hurt the cause and prevent progress.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) September 24, 2020
Not everyone is confident in what they’re seeing.
The fact that these “protests” are now happening in our neighborhood, just shows how important this election is to have leadership that is not afraid of law and order. Clearly St. Pete leadership is dropping the ball.
— Steven Powell (@STLgolfer) September 24, 2020
One Twitter user called out Governor Ron DeSantis to help keep St. Pete safe.
@GovRonDeSantis please take some time to check on the protests in St Pete. It’s getting out of control and no one is doing anything to keep our community safe.
— La Betri by Fili-Piña Athleisure (@Labetri8) September 27, 2020
Last week, DeSantis announced he would support legislation that would withhold funding from cities or jurisdictions that cut law enforcement budgets.
“If you defund the police, then the state will defund any grant or aid coming to you, and that applies to any municipality in the state of Florida,” he said.
Protests have been going on in St. Pete since late May following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. In response to calls for change in procedure, the St. Pete police department plans to use federal funding originally earmarked for hiring new officers to create a new division called Community Assistance Liaison. It would be staffed by social workers who would respond to some non-violent calls. The idea has drawn mixed responses from the community, with some people expressing concerns over what could happen should a non-emergency situation escalate.
So St. Pete police respond to 12-14k non-violent calls each year, now to be replaced by 25 social workers, operating between 6am-2am. That’s 400-500 calls each per year. I thought ppl were kidding with the ‘911 send a social worker’ thing. Wondering abt unintended consequences. https://t.co/q0JObFkkY2
— Saxophonic (@harpandsax) July 10, 2020