George Floyd protests: Florida sheriff asks residents to keep their guns loaded to shoot down home invaders

Polka County Sheriff Grady Judd warned protesters against indulging in criminal activity, vowing to hunt them down

                            George Floyd protests: Florida sheriff asks residents to keep their guns loaded to shoot down home invaders
(Polk County Sheriff's Office/Getty Images)

POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: As massive riots and violent protests raged across multiple states in the United States in the wake of George Floyd's death due to police brutality in Minneapolis last week, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd urged residents of his county during a news briefing to open fire on looters and home invaders. 

“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," Judd told reporters on Monday, June 1. “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.”

Although Judd emphasized his appreciation for peaceful protests he also drew attention to the "civil unrest" around the Lakeland area just east of Tampa and south of Orlando over the weekend and additional rumors circulating on social media about rioters planning on bringing violence into the neighborhoods. Judd advised against trying to turn the rumors into reality. “We are going to hunt you down and lock you up if you engage in any criminal conduct,” Judd said.

He also highlighted the difference between the community at Minneapolis, where a white police officer was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for eight minutes till he passed out and ultimately died, and the community at Polk County. 

Activists hold a rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 on the streets of downtown Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

“The death of George in Minneapolis at the hands of that police officer was outrageous,” Judd said. “Had that police officer done here what he did there, he would have been locked up in the county jail by sundown. But Minneapolis is not Polk County. And I want to say unequivocally that the community here is unbelievable … But please understand, that if you come here to riot, to loot, to injure people, we’re going to lock you up in the county jail.”

Polk County’s curfew goes into effect from 8 pm Monday to 5 am Tuesday. In conclusion, Judd said that anyone wishing to express their First Amendment right to free speech to follow peaceful protocols for voicing their protests and not resort to violence as that distracts people from the issue at hand and dishonors the name of the victim. “All of that ugliness has taken away from what we’re united about,” the sheriff said of unlawful activity. “We’re united about the conduct that you saw with George [Floyd].”

In their official website, the Polk County sheriff speaks of the four core values of their service being integrity, compassion, accountability, and professionalism. "We, the members of the Polk County Sheriff ’s  Office, are committed to excellence in providing law enforcement, detention, and public safety services. In partnership with our community, we will serve with integrity, compassion, accountability, and professionalism," their mission statement says. 

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