St. Petersburg ‘Patriots’ call for peace following recent protests in Bay Area

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – As the group St. Pete Peace Protest marched through the city Saturday, to denounce racial injustice, a group of self-proclaimed Patriots tagged along to keep an eye on things.

“We’ve noticed the viral videos and we’ve seen there is no police presence around there. Where are the police from stopping this from going on?” asked Jonathan Riches, who was part of the counter-protest.

Riches recorded the protest and posted it on YouTube.

He said he and others are fed up with the recent chaos, including a moment last week when protesters interrupted some Beach Drive diners.

“I think everybody has a concern and agreement that there’s no police presence down there and people are tired of being harassed going about their life,” he explained.

In the YouTube video, it appears a man reaches into his back waist band for a gun during the protest. Moments later, a shoving match ensues. Then, a man pulls a pistol not far from the The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club.

“He’s got a gun!” a man screams on a video clip.

Police said no one was hurt and no arrests were made.

“It was extremely scary. I was very worried for everybody there. There’s a lot of people there who are bright young folks,” said Aaron Gilmore, a spokesman for St. Pete Peace Protest.

Riches said the man, who has not been identified, likely pulled the gun to protect himself and others, after another man pulled a knife.

When contacted Monday, a spokesman for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said the mayor plans to address the protests during a press conference Tuesday.

Riches said people plan to gather in downtown St. Pete Saturday for a Make America Great Again rally. Specific details of the rally were not immediately known.

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