A Florida sheriff defended the dispersal of a large block party violating social distancing guidelines by saying those waving the race card were using the “coward’s way out.”
Police engaged in various altercations on Saturday in Deland while trying to disperse the party, which appeared to be predominately attended by African-Americans.
Residents reportedly threw jars and glasses at the police, and two convicted felons were arrested.
Police released their chopper video of the incident that involved thousands of residents:
GRAPHIC CONTENT: County sheriffs in Florida released footage of a block party with over 3000 people in attendance, despite social distancing guidelines pic.twitter.com/CXYJpNgF2Q— Reuters (@Reuters) May 19, 2020
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood addressed the accusations of racism in a media briefing on Monday.
“If you’re white, black, hispanic, or yellow, you’ve got a gun and point it at me, I’m going to shoot you,” said Chitwood.
“And I think to raise the race card around is a coward’s way of saying this was out of control, this was an embarrassment,” he added.
Chitwood said that guns were brandished during the arrests, and called the party a “s**tshow.” He said that the vast majority of people attending the block party were just out there to have a good time.
He also addressed the controversy in a lengthy Twitter statement where he acknowledged the history of racism in America, but defended the actions of the police as necessary and not at all racist.
Just trying to set the tone as we talk about what happened this weekend. Our deputies & police officers were dispersing large block parties and had just made a lawful arrest of a felon w/ a loaded gun when parts of the crowd turned against them, throwing bottles and glass jars.— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) May 18, 2020
WKMG Orlando reported that no permits were issued for the party.
“It has nothing to do with race, it has everything to do with lawlessness!” said Chitwood.