In the wake of both peaceful and violent protests, Tampa police chief Brian Dugan released a statement on Facebook last night expressing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Tampa community, and his fellow officers. The show of solidarity comes after a night of protests and clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators. While calling for a restoration of order, Dugan promised to make things right with the community.
Tampa's Chief of Police spoke at a Monday press conference, later sharing an image of his statement to Facebook on Tuesday, June 2.
"Let me just start off by saying that black lives matter and that's what this is all about," said Dugan. "People feel like black lives don't matter and I want you to know as your Chief of Police that I acknowledge that feeling and that black lives matter."
"The first step I will take as your Chief of Police, is I will shut up and listen to you,” Dugan continued. "But I cannot listen while we have any civil unrest in our city."
Chief Dugan has made several Tweets regarding the protests and his support over the last week.
"I've talked to many people who are angry, disturbed and dismayed over the death of George Floyd," Dugan wrote on May 29. "This incident doesn't make all cops bad and it doesn't make you anti police if your outraged over this."
I’ve talked to many people who are angry, disturbed and dismayed over the death of George Floyd. This incident doe… https://t.co/dRHORMmphQ— Brian Dugan (@Brian Dugan) 1590713013.0
"Wanting cops to be held accountable doesn't mean you don't support the police."
The police chief’s words of support come with several other examples of solidarity from law enforcement in Florida, including officers kneeling with protestors and deputies comforting a young girl and her mother.
Following Police Chief Dugan's statement into Tuesday night, some protests in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg were peaceful, while others were not.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that after marching for hours through several streets, protesters in St. Petersburg gathered at police headquarters, some releasing fireworks.
After warning the protesters to leave the headquarters area, police then used smoke and flashbangs to deter crowds.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a number of arrests were then made.