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Downpour drenches demonstrators in downtown St. Petersburg

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A mid evening rain put the damper on demonstrators in St. Petersburg.

Around 7 p.m., the skies opened up and rain, thunder, and lightning drove many in the crowd away. A handful remained in front of the St. Petersburg Police headquarters holding waterlogged signs, standing in front of some barriers.

Briana Murphy was one of them. “This is important because they need to see us. We need to take action. Not only are we needing to be seen, but we need to educate,” said Murphy. “It’s not just about protesting,”

On Saturday, the protests were mostly peaceful during the day. Then nightfall came. Several in the group started throwing bottles, rocks and other objects at officers. Officers arrested 14 of those involved while one officer suffered minor injuries.

Chief Anthony Holloway hopes those peaceful protesters understand, that when the group becomes violent, their voices are muted.

“Peaceful protests, we’re here to talk about what happened to Mr. Floyd. They’re here to talk about other issues, and when they start throwing rocks and bottles, guess what? Now the conversation starts turning toward the rocks and bottles,” said Chief Holloway. “We stop talking about what happened to Mr. Floyd and how we can do things. Now we’re talking about violent protesters. “

Before the rain, the demonstrators used the police headquarters as ground zero. They would meet there, chant and rally for about an hour, and then march in downtown St. Petersburg. They laid in the middle of Central Avenue at one point, yelling, “I can’t breathe.” Officers were on hand to make sure the protesters stayed safe and traffic was halted.

Tim Arnold was not a part of the protest, but supports their cause. He believes racial equality is long overdue.

“I feel their pain, I appreciate what they’re doing. I can’t stand the fact that we’re not responding better,” said Arnold. “And, you know it’s high time. It’s way past time. “

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