TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Protests over racial injustice continued in several Florida cities over the weekend.
In Miami, a group of about 100 people gathered downtown Saturday night for a “Say Their Names” tribute. Protesters displayed dozens of photos of victims who have died in violent confrontations with police, including George Floyd, who was killed May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds after accusing Floyd of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.
One of the photos was of Arthur McDuffie, the Miami insurance agent beaten to death by Miami-Dade police after they chased him down for speeding on his motorcycle in 1979.
The Miami Herald reported that protesters carried signs that said, “Who Will Hold Police Accountable? End Qualified Immunity,” which refers to the legal protection that can help shield police from civil lawsuits. Another sign said, “How can I celebrate when this country raped and pillaged this land from my ancestors?”
In Tampa, nine people were arrested for blocking traffic Saturday afternoon.
The Tampa Bay Times reported seven were taken into custody and two were given notices to appear in court. However, the paper couldn’t find one of them in jail records, so three may have been given notices to appear. Three arrestees face charges of battering a law enforcement officer, and one of them faces a charge of carrying a concealed firearm. Most face a misdemeanor charge of violating city ordinance 14-41 — obstructing the free flow of traffic.
In St. Petersburg, at least 100 demonstrators marched through downtown and into a residential neighborhood. Around 10:30 p.m., there was a tense moment when a motorcycle drove through their ranks. A man and a woman got off the red motorcycle and got into a heated exchanged with the protesters because the motorcyclist was upset they were blocking traffic.
In Tallahassee, about 100 people protested at Florida State University Saturday, demanding that a statue of Francis Eppes be removed. Eppes was the mayor of Tallahassee in the mid 1800s who also organized a slave patrol to hunt runaway slaves.
“No one who participated in the depraved institution of slavery should be honored at FSU or elsewhere,” Val Beron, a rising senior at FSU told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Also on Saturday afternoon, a pro-Trump rally took place in Miami on the steps of the Freedom Tower downtown. Speeches in Spanish were punctuated with chants of “Trump 2020” in English, and “Viva Cuba Libre” and “Gracias America” In Spanish, the Miami Herald reported.