‘Zero tolerance for violence’: Gov. Ron DeSantis breaks silence on Florida’s George Floyd protests

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis broke his silence on Monday to address the death of George Floyd and the protests that broke out across Florida this weekend in response to his death.

“Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting and looting,” the governor said in a statement released Monday evening. “George Floyd’s murder was appalling and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.”

His comments come after a weekend of mostly peaceful protests during the day that turned into chaos when the sun went down.

The City of Tampa put a curfew in place on Sunday after police clashed with protesters on Saturday night at University Mall. Polk County also enacted a curfew.

Gov. DeSantis says he’s been in constant contact with state and local leaders, including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

“We have devoted significant resources, including the mobilization of 700 Florida National Guard soldiers who are specially trained to support law enforcement,” he said. “I have also worked with FHP to coordinate more than 1,300 sworn Florida Highway Patrol troopers to support local law enforcement efforts. We will continue to do everything necessary to keep residents safe.”

DeSantis noted in his statement that he’s also spoken with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. President Trump on Monday held a video call with governors and slammed many of them for being “weak” in the midst of the demostrations.

“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” the president said. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”

The protests in Tampa Bay – and across the State of Florida – are part of a larger response across the nation to the death of George Floyd, the man who died after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third-degree murder and fired along with three other officers. Attorneys for Floyd’s family are calling for the charge against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder and for the other three officers to be charged.

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