TAMPA, Fla. — Leaders from the City of Tampa and Polk County have announced plans to extend curfews put into place due to violent protests.
During a news conference on Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced the current curfew in place for the City of Tampa will extend one more night.
The curfew is from 7:30 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
“The purpose of the curfew is to keep all citizens safe,” Mayor Castor said.
Mayor Castor said the decision was made out an abundance of caution.
The same sentiment was expressed on Monday in Polk County by Sheriff Grady Judd.
He announced Monday that he too is extending the current curfew into Tuesday morning.
The Polk County curfew begins at 8 p.m. tonight and expires at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
The Polk County curfew mandates residents stay inside, with the exception of lawfully performing their job activities, including travel to and from said jobs, seeking medical care at a hospital, fire, police and hospital services, including the transportation of patients there to utility emergency repairs and emergency calls by physicians.
"It's for those lawless people that would wreak havoc in the community," Sheriff Judd said.
"The people of Polk County like guns. They have guns. I encourage them to own guns and they're going to be in their homes tonight... with their guns loaded. If you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires. I'm highly recommending they blow you back out of their house with their guns," Sheriff Judd added.
Monday night, dozens of protesters gathered at a park in Auburndale for a peaceful protest.
"Truth be told we shouldn’t even be out here because it’s sad enough that people have to exist in fear walking down the street because they’ll see the cops," said Decorius Williams.
"It’s not just this incident it’s multiple incidents that have been happening and I feel like people don’t understand the frustration as far as how long this has been going on it’s just not this situation like I said it’s just been building up and then that anger is just coming out know what I’m saying?," said Aaron Thomas. "So I’m saying instead of criticizing people start understanding why people react a certain way."
People chanted and spoke out against police brutality, racism and injustices.
"I think it's a message of love to be honest and appreciation to be honest black people have been in this country for years generations and not willingly and it’s heart wrenching to see even this is 2020 the most recent year even in this time things like this are still happening," said Cathrina Morris.
Protesters kneeled in silence for George Floyd for ten minutes as an officer kept time for them. A police chaplain helped lead everyone in prayer. Police stood watch over the group, some officers holding signs of their own protesters helped them make reading "free hugs" and "don't judge all for actions of few."
"We agree in this particular case it’s shocking and it bothers all of us it shouldn’t happen. We basically are here to say we agree with you and also to say don’t lump us in the same group," said Auburndale Police Chief Andy Ray.
Protesters took turns with the microphone sharing their sentiments. When the curfew took effect, they peacefully ended the demonstration.