‘We’ll be waiting on you.’ Florida sheriff wants to deputize gun owners against protesters

·2 min read

A Florida sheriff warned people protesting police brutality that he would call on individual gun owners to defend themselves if peaceful demonstrations got out of hand.

In a three-minute Facebook video, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said Tuesday that “we’ll be waiting on” protesters who are “disrupting the quality of life” in their northern Florida county.

“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,” said Daniels, with about 17 deputies standing behind him.

“I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county. And I’ll deputize them for this one purpose — to stand between the gap of lawlessness and civility,” he said.

Daniels, a first-term sheriff who is in the middle of his campaign for reelection, said he would use his authority as sheriff to grant civilians the authority to enforce the law within the county’s jurisdiction.

Protests against racism and disproportionate police violence on Black communities have rocked major cities and small towns throughout the country, after a viral video showed the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.

Daniels, who is Black, said he posted the video as a response to questions on how he would handle rioters.

“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,” he said.

After the video was posted, Daniels clarified in an interview with First Coast News that citizens couldn’t just enforce the law on their own, but rather that they would be called on if they were needed.

“That does not give anybody the authority or autonomy to do anything independently,“ Daniels told First Coast News. “If I need help from a citizen then I’m going to ask for that help.”

Despite the video’s tone, Daniels said it was “absolutely not a threat” to protesters and that they had a right to exercise their constitutional rights to protest.

“Lawlessness, that’s unacceptable in this country. Lawlessness, that’s unacceptable in Clay County,” he said. “You’ve been warned.”