A Florida police chief on Monday encouraged residents to open fire on violent looters who try to enter their homes.
“I would tell them, if you value your life, they probably shouldn’t do that in Polk County. Because the people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be in their homes tonight with their guns loaded,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters during a news briefing.
“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. So, leave the community alone.”
Judd said protests in the county — the Lakeland area just east of Tampa and south of Orlando — devolved into “civil unrest” on Saturday and Sunday and rumors had been circulating online that rioters planned on bringing violence into the neighborhoods, according to FOX 13 News.
“We are going to hunt you down and lock you up if you engage in any criminal conduct,” Judd said.
The sheriff encouraged protesters seeking to make their voices heard to keep their focus on George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes, sparking demonstrations across the country.
“All of that ugliness has taken away from what we’re united about,” the sheriff said of the lootings and other unlawful activity.
“We’re united about the conduct that you saw with George [Floyd].”
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