On Monday, a sheriff from Florida warned would-be looters and home intruders by encouraging residents to fire upon anyone attempting to pillage their homes, following heated protests in the Lakeland area.
“The people in Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press briefing, as Fox 13 reported.
“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,” Judd said.
Lakeland, Florida, saw hundreds of demonstrators spill into a local park Sunday protesting the death of George Floyd. The protest began peacefully but turned violent in a clash with local law enforcement, WFLA reported.
Neighboring Hillsborough County also experienced violence over the weekend as looters allegedly ransacked a Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant and a Champs Sports store. Photos from Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister also appear to show vandalized police vehicles.
“For the first time in 29 years, I had to do an all-call and call every available unit from the entire 1,110-square-mile county to rush to the university area to restore some order to such a chaotic scene,” Chronister told Tampa Bay 10.
Polk County issued an 8 p.m. curfew that takes effect Monday and Hillsborough County has instituted a 9 p.m. curfew in an attempt to prevent further violence, as the BPR reported.