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Tampa Curfew To Continue At Least One More Night

police officers standing in a line
Hillsborough County Sheriff
Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies responded to crowds near the University Mall in Tampa on Saturday night.

The City of Tampa will remian under a nighttime curfew for at least one more night.

Mayor Jane Castor said that in an abundance of caution, residents are asked to stay home and businesses are asked to be closed again on Monday, from 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“That slight inconvenience really pales in comparison to our ability to keep all of our citizens, all of our citizens safe,” Castor said. “And that is the purpose of the curfew.”

The city reported fewer arrests on Sunday night: 21 on charges ranging from burglary to rioting. One business and three police cars were damaged.

Castor and Police Chief Brian Dugan said protestors who marched peacefully during the day were not the source of the problems Saturday or Sunday night. Thousands of people in Tampa and across Tampa Bay are protesting the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died last week while in the custody of Minnesota police.

Tampa Police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported dozens of arrests on Saturday night on charges ranging from burglary to rioting. More than 50 businesses in the city and surrounding areas were damaged - including a shopping plaza that was set on fire. 
On Monday, Chief Dugan said he promises to work on rebuilding trust with the black community, as soon as the civil unrest is under control.

He said he first needs to focus on stopping "agitators," who he says are responsible for breaking into dozens of businesses, and damaging law enforcement vehicles.

“We're just not going to let them tear down any of our community, but especially the black community. They are suffering as it is,” he said. “We don't need anymore of this.”

Dugan says its important people know the agitators have nothing to do with thousands of peaceful protestors who marched during the day Sunday.

“I don't want the Black Lives Matter march mixed in with a few people who have ill intentions,” he said.

Dugan says Sunday's protest was one of the largest he has seen in 30 years in Tampa.

About 100 National Guard members were deployed Sunday evening in what Castor described as potential "targets" across the city. They will not be asked to help on Monday night, Castor said.

A few other peaceful protests in the Tampa Bay area on Sunday evolved into clashes with police later in the day.

In St. Petersburg, marches and protests ended with a confrontation in front of the city’s police headquarters about 11 p.m.
The city reports that some of the 200 protesters tore water meter covers off, tossing them and rocks and bottles at officers. Several officers were hit with the objects, but only one suffered a minor injury. A patrol car also was damaged.

Smoke was used to disperse the crowd. A total of 14 people were arrested for unlawful assembly.

Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies and Pinellas Park Police assisted city police.

In Lakeland on Sunday, police used tear gas to break up a crowd of about 150 protesters who were blocking the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Florida Avenue. It took place several hours after a peaceful march in Munn Park.

The Ledger reports the conflict followed an incident where a car that was trying to get through the intersection hit a woman and knocked her down. Some people jumped on the car and demolished the front windshield and damaged the rear window.

Florida Highway Patrol officers joined about two dozen Lakeland Police officers and an armored personnel carrier to order people to stop blocking the intersection.

When they threw canisters of tear gas at the crowd, some threw the canisters back at the officers.

Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia said one person was injured, but no officers were hurt.

Late Sunday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd declared a state of emergency for the county, meaning residents were asked to stay at home. That order expired at 5 a.m. on Monday.

In Tampa on Sunday, protesters clashed with police after several hours. Mayor Jane Castor issued an overnight curfew and as of 8 a.m. the police department reported no serious incidents. 

On Saturday night, Tampa and Hillsborough County law enforcement said more than 50 businesses were damaged or burglarized by crowds that grew violent after peaceful protests earlier. More than 50 police cars were also damaged.

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