A Florida sheriff says he will deputize legal gun owners to “to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility” if violent rioters come to his county.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels released a video statement on Tuesday warning that the scenes of violent riots, burning shops and police cars, and toppled statues would not be replicated in Clay County. Daniels said that he and his deputies would defend activists’ right to protest but warned demonstrators against stepping “out from under the protection of the Constitution” to harm the community.
“We’ll be waiting on you and we’ll give you everything you want. All the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour, and glory, for all that five minutes will give you,” Daniels said while standing in front of a line of his deputies. “Is it a threat? Absolutely not, but somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say enough is enough. Tearing up Clay County? That’s not going to be acceptable.”
“If we can’t handle you, you know what I’ll do? I will exercise the power and authority as a sheriff and I will make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county, and I’ll deputize them for this one purpose: to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility. That’s what we’re sworn to do, and that’s what we’re going to do. You’ve been warned,” Daniels concluded.
The sheriff also criticized the media and Black Lives Matter for “making themselves a spectacle” and pushing a divisive and disruptive message that lacks “God.”
George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 sparked protests against police brutality and perceived systemic racism among police departments across the country, many of which ultimately became riots.
The protests reignited a debate over the place of Confederate monuments and symbols on public property. Rioters have taken advantage of anger against Confederate symbols to justify vandalism and destruction against a wide array of public monuments including those to Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Catholic St. Junipero Serra, and Union general and former President Ulysses S. Grant.
In cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City, activists have set up protest zones meant to bar law enforcement from certain areas. In Seattle, city officials left the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone in place for weeks until the area suffered a string of fatal shootings.
Read Daniels’ remarks in full:
Hey, folks. Me and the men and women of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office just want to weigh in on what we are seeing going on played out across the media, or mainstream media in this country. Look, folks. Don’t fall victim to subjecting yourself to this conversation that law enforcement is bad, that law enforcement is the enemy of the citizens that we are sworn to protect and serve. We swore and oath, and in that oath we swore to support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the government, and that we are duly qualified under the state’s constitution to hold office. That is for me as a sheriff and for these men and women as deputy sheriffs, and we end that with “so help me, God.” But God is absent from the media’s message or Black Lives Matter or any other group out there that’s making themselves a spectacle, disrupting what we know to be our quality of life in this country. In Clay County, we know we have a great quality of life. We have a great relationship with out community. But across this country, not so much. I just wanted to take a stand with these men and with these women who feel the same way that I do. Lawlessness, that’s unacceptable in this country. Lawlessness, that’s unacceptable in Clay County, and if you threaten to come to Clay County and think that for one second that we’ll bend our backs for you, you’re sadly mistaken. I know what happens when lawlessness prevails. And in this day and time, God is raising up men and women just like the folks you see standing behind me who will have strong backbones and will stand in the gap between lawlessness and the good citizenry that we are sworn to protect and serve. So you can threaten all you want. You can say, ‘Hey, let’s go to Clay County’ or let’s go to some other peaceful county where their problems don’t exist or not so much like across this country, where relationships are great and not strained, and where the people support their sheriff and support the men and women who wear the uniform, and you’ll have something waiting on you that you don’t want. Yes, we’ll protect your constitutional rights as long as you remain under the umbrella of peaceful protest or peaceful march, but the second that you step out from under the protection of the Constitution, we’ll be waiting on you and we’ll give you everything you want. All the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour and glory, for all that five minutes will give you. Is it a threat? Absolutely not, but somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say enough is enough. Tearing up Clay County? That’s not going to be acceptable. And if we can’t handle you, you know what I’ll do? I will exercise the power and authority as a sheriff and I will make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county, and I’ll deputize them for this one purpose: to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility. That’s what we’re sworn to do, and that’s what we’re going to do. You’ve been warned.
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