(The Center Square) – Florida cities are bracing for a renewed wave of protests and potential violence Thursday after George Floyd’s memorial service in Houston.
Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy during the afternoon service for Floyd, whose death on Memorial Day while being detained by Minneapolis police has sparked a week of demonstrations and rioting nationwide, as well across Florida.
People took to the streets of downtown Miami and other Florida cities for the third consecutive day Monday with few incidents of violence reported in the face of beefed-up police presence as most cities relaxed curfews imposed Saturday and Sunday.
In Miami, where Mayor Carlos Gimenez has not lifted a curfew he authorized Sunday, Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez III on Tuesday asked county commissioners to keep the curfew in place through the weekend.
“Around the country, things are very heated,” Ramirez said. “That’s why I feel we should continue with the curfew through the weekend so we can have consistency. In case that any of these splinter groups try to start something in our community.”
Gimenez told commissioners he wanted the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew to remain in place at least through Thursday.
“This is not over yet,” he said. “We have the funeral Thursday.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a Tuesday afternoon statement that demonstrations statewide have remained “largely peaceful” since Sunday, with no significant law enforcement or civilian injuries reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Additionally, DeSantis' statement said, FDLE has not received reports of widespread property damage that occurred in several cities Saturday and Sunday.
“I appreciate all the hard work being done by our local officials, the Florida National Guard, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and our law enforcement to help ensure the safety of residents and visitors, as well as those who are engaging in peaceful First Amendment activity,” DeSantis said.
The governor has mobilized 700 Florida National Guardsmen specially trained to support law enforcement and has assigned more than 1,300 FHP officers to support local law enforcement efforts.
“We will remain vigilant and stand ready in the event something changes,” DeSantis said. “Florida will not tolerate rioting, looting or violence. We encourage all residents and visitors to continue abiding by local curfews and directives and thank everyone for their cooperation.”
While several municipalities have lifted curfews, many others have either extended them or – in places such as Fort Lauderdale, Lake County, Orange County, Orlando and Tampa – they remain in place “until further notice.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’’s curfew order expired Monday. He said there was no reason to keep the curfew in place, but would reimpose it if circumstances call for him to do so.
Leon County’s curfew also expired Monday. The county includes Tallahassee.
Polk County’s Sunday curfew was extended through Monday by Sheriff Grady Judd, who has lifted the curfew but warned rioters in no uncertain terms that central Florida is probably not a good place to loot private property.
"The people in Polk County like guns. They have guns. I encourage them to own guns,” he said during a news conference. “And if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I'm highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns."
Broward County’s curfew, issued by Mayor Dale Holness, extends seven days through Sunday.
In Palm County, four cities Monday imposed 72-hour curfews extending through Thursday, including West Palm Beach, which also closed bridges connecting downtown to President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort.