Sheriff: Jacksonville deputy stabbed in neck, others injured from thrown rocks and bricks during protests
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Deputies were recovering from injuries, nightly curfews were issued, and the cleanup of smashed store windows began Sunday around Florida after a night of unrest throughout the state’s cities that followed protests in response to the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said an unnamed deputy was either stabbed or slashed in the neck and was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday evening. A sheriff’s office spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the deputy’s condition Sunday morning.
“He was out here doing his job when he was attacked,” Williams said at a news conference Saturday night. He blamed outsiders for the violence and said other deputies were injured from thrown rocks and bricks.
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Meanwhile, in Orlando, several stores in the Mall of Millenia area were broken into and damaged by looters as 'Justice for George' protests across the city erupted on Saturday night.
Protesters in Downtown Orlando set off fireworks and threw bottles and police responded with pepper spray. Police went on to close Orange Avenue as people marched up and down the streets, demanding justice for George Floyd.
Then, on the 408, protesters gathered and were climbing barriers and blocking the highway. Many participants carried signs and denounced police brutality. Police said that some protesters threw rocks at bottles at officers, forcing them to use a "chemical agent" to clear them from the highway. At least six people were arrested.
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Then, in Tampa, protesters on Saturday night threw rocks at first responders and set fire to a sporting-clothes store at a shopping mall. A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy was injured when he was struck by a firework and another deputy was sent to the hospital after being hit in the back of the head by a hard object, the sheriff’s office tweeted.
Images posted by the sheriff’s office showed shattered storefront glass at University Mall and the smashed back window of a squad car.
“We are better than this, Tampa Bay. Violence and looting is not the answer, and will not be tolerated,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister tweeted.
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In South Florida, after protesters hurled rocks and bottles at officers and set squad cars on fire outside Miami Police headquarters Saturday night, transit officials said that all Miami-Dade public transit was being suspended on Sunday, including buses and light rail.
At one point Saturday night, Interstate 95 was shut down in both directions as a group of protesters stood on the busy roadway. Videos on social media showed dozens of people breaking into stores at Bayside Marketplace, a popular outdoor shopping center in downtown Miami.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a curfew Saturday night that will be in place daily from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Under the curfew, no one will be allowed on streets and sidewalks with the exception of police officers, firefighters, medical workers, utility workers and people walking their dogs.
“Let me be clear, justice must be done,” Gimenez said in a statement. “But rioting and looting accomplish nothing. Those unlawful actions just bring more pain and suffering.”
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A pickup truck drove through a crowd of protesters Saturday in Tallahassee, sending some running and screaming. Video shows Tallahassee protesters walking around the truck as it stopped at a traffic light, while some appeared to speak to the driver.
In one video, a bottle was apparently smashed against the widow and the truck then suddenly accelerated, knocking several people to the side, but no serious injuries were reported.
Police did not release the name of the driver or say whether he would face any charges.
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The former Minneapolis officer seen kneeling on George Floyd's neck as he struggled to breathe, Derek Chauvin, is in custody this morning. He is charged with third-degree-murder and manslaughter. His wife has also filed for divorce, as her attorneys say that she was devastated by Floyd's death.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.