A police officer was stabbed in the neck and several others attacked Saturday at a riot over the death of George Floyd in Jacksonville, Florida.
“They attacked several police officers. They vandalized several police cars, attempting to light them on fire, breaking windows. We have one officer who was stabbed — was slashed in the neck and is currently at the hospital,” stated Sheriff Mike Williams.
The sheriff and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the demonstration began peacefully but later took a turn for the worse, according to News 4 Jax.
About 1,200 people came to the event that was scheduled to start at 3 PM, and Williams said the organizers showed “really good cooperation.”
However, after the majority of people went home around 6:30 p.m., about 200 people stayed to confront the police, and that was when the officers were attacked.
At 8:45 p.m., there were still about 100 rioters downtown, and officers planned to have crews remain as the evening progressed.
“All this ends when these rioters go home,” Williams explained, adding, “This is a small group that stuck around to create chaos.”
Later, Mayor Curry said he and fellow leaders would work with peaceful protesters but offered a stern warning to those who used violence:
Many today peacefully made their voices clear for justice. We hear you and will work with you. But those who remain, causing damage and attacking first responders will not be tolerated.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) May 30, 2020
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote on social media that the violence was not coming from real protesters but from “professional agitators with an unrelated agenda.”
“Many of these professional agitators don’t fit a simple left vs right identity. They are part of a growing anti-government extremist movement,” he continued, adding, “They hate law enforcement & want to tear the whole system down even if it requires a new civil war.”
Mayor Curry said there were young people at the event making their voices heard in a respectful way, but when they left, the ones who remained were not there for peace.
“It’s not about reform. It’s not about change. It’s about violence,” he noted. “Police officers have been attacked, and we’re not going to tolerate it in our city. We’re not going to let them burn our city to the ground.”