St. Petersburg Police and Mayor Rick Kriseman are asking for the community’s help to keep protests from getting out of hand.
Kriseman and Police Chief Anthony Holloway addressed the City Council Thursday, following two incidents Wednesday night during Black Lives Matter protests in the city.
Videos circulating on social media show a protestor jumping on a car in one incident. In another incident, a protestor sat down at an outdoor restaurant table that was already occupied by restaurant patrons.
In the first case, the driver of the car did not want to press charges, Holloway said. In the second case, no one from the restaurant called police and asked them to remove the protestor, he said.
The city welcomes peaceful protests and has tried to create a safe space for them, Kriseman said. “None of us supports protest which is not peaceful and goes beyond bonds of decency,” Kriseman said.
Kriseman said he was in constant contact with the police chief Wednesday night and asked if the victims or the restaurant had asked for police help. The answer was no, Kriseman said.
“What I’m hoping is that the community is a partner with us, both in facilitating peaceful protest but also in preventing protest that is not peaceful from occurring. So if you are a restaurant or a bar and there’s something going on your property that is inappropriate, we can help you but you have to ask us for that,” Kriseman said
Several city council members spoke out in response to the incidents, including Deborah Figgs-Sanders, one of two Black Council members.
“I saw the videos last night and didn’t understand it. The total message has been lost. For protestors who protest peacefully we applaud that. But the few that are passionate past the point of being disrespectful, I can’t endorse,” Figgs-Sanders said.
Council member Darden Rice said it was important the city send a message that it has zero tolerance for assaulting people, while Council Chairman Ed Montanari said he will not tolerate protestors threatening people, blocking roads and disrupting businesses.
“I want the laws of the city enforced and I want people to know around the world what a great city St. Petersburg is. Last night I didn’t like what I saw and my patience is at an end,” Montanari said.