ST. PETERSBURG (CW44 News at 10) – City of St. Petersburg officials stood among protesters at the steps of City Hall Wednesday morning to deliver a message addressing recent protests on police brutality in America. Protesters and bystanders listened as Mayor Rick Kriseman, local pastors and other officials spoke.
“We are proud that we are on the cusp of a new most welcoming world that works for all of us. But we know there is much work, still, to be done,” said Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of St. Petersburg.
“We have some healing to do. We have some work to do. To all the genuine people that are out there doing the work, I salute you, I love you. Thank you,” said one of the local pastors.
Just hours before, peaceful protesters took to the streets of St. Pete once again.
“I have to say its super super nice to see all the young people out here today. They’re the future and having them here supporting this is really awesome,” said Trina Fard, a Protester in the video.“My feet are killing me, but I have to say it’s a reminder of the pain, which is miniscule to what these young men, young black men who were murdered in cold blood felt in their last moments. So, we do it because it’s important and their voice has been silenced forever and now we have to be their voice.”
But city leaders say, as nighttime fell, so did the message for some.
“For most of that last four days and nights, we’ve also had some of the very best protesters in the country. But we’ve also had those who have failed to convey a clear message; who have chosen not to lift their voices, but lift bottles, rocks and fireworks,” said Mayor Kriseman.
According to the St. Pete Police Department, just before midnight, protesters returned to police headquarters and officers announced it was an unlawful assembly, prompting protesters to head out. Minutes later, police say they launched smoke bombs and protesters began throwing fireworks back.
Twenty-three people were arrested after refusing to leave and a bag with fireworks was confiscated.
“Our people have been speaking up and we have been listening, but the key thing is, I don’t think we’ve been hearing them. We’re going to start hearing some people,” said St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway.
Still, peaceful protesters are keeping a tunnel vision focus as they march on.
“Find a place. Join a protest. Make your voice heard. Support black lives, they need it… especially now,” said Fard.
President and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, Watson Haynes II presented a ten point plan which is being reviewed and potentially instilled into legislation which could make a national impact. Stick with cw44 news for this developing story.