ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – An increased police presence in downtown and on the new St. Petersburg Pier made no arrests as they managed to keep counter-protesters separated Saturday evening.
“This is us, this is Pinellas County and St. Pete and despite the weather, despite the rain, it’s good to see this many folks come out,” Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch said at the Rally Against Hate and Vigil for Justice that started in South Straub Park.
With their signs and shirts, the people at the main demonstration wanted to spread a message of peace, justice and equity, and against racism and white supremacy.
“We’ve been organizing nonviolently with no property damage and injury for 100 and some odd days,” said Ashley Green, an organizer from Movement St. Pete.
That coalition of social justice demonstrators is calling for funding to be reallocated from the police to support affordable housing, health care, and education.
After the group left for a silent march, a smaller number of counter-protesters showed up to confront them on the pier.
St. Petersburg police officers, some with their bicycles, were already standing by. They formed a line to keep the two sides separated.
“Burning, looting, destroying our cities,” said Gary Snow from Fort Myers.
After News Channel 8’s Justin Schecker pointed out that hasn’t happened, he referenced a video of a confrontation between protesters and a couple having dinner as to why he came from out of town.
“You don’t have the right to be a provocateur, to instigate and to intimidate people while they’re eating dinner,” Snow said.
The social justice protesters marched peacefully back to the park where again police held the line to keep the two groups apart.
“We showed a unified group from across all different walks of life and this is how we’re going to continue on,” Green told News Channel 8.
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