Florida sheriff educates media on difference between protests and riots

by WorldTribune Staff, September 28, 2020

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is known to be a law enforcement official who tells it like it is.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. / YouTube

As rioting broke out across America in late May and early June, Judd warned anyone who might try to riot in Polk County: “I would tell them, if you value your life, they probably shouldn’t do that in Polk County. Because the people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be in their homes tonight with their guns loaded. And if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I’m highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns. So, leave the community alone.”

On Sept. 21, Judd was part of a news conference in the Polk County city of Winter Haven during which Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new bill entitled the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.” The legislation calls for defunding cities that defund their police departments and to establish what DeSantis referred to as “clear and predictable penalties” for those who participate in rioting.

Judd addressed reporters and began by praising DeSantis’s efforts to crack down on lawlessness in the Sunshine State.

“And in this state, there’s a 49-year low crime rate. That doesn’t just happen,” Judd said. “It doesn’t happen when you listen to a handful of people who think we ought to let criminals out of jail.”

Judd then schooled the media on the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot.

“I can tell you folks, so that there’s no misunderstanding today, this is a peaceful protest,” Judd said, placing a photograph of what appeared to be a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the podium.

Placing the second photo, which showed a raging fire, next to the first one, he explained: “This is a riot. We can tell the difference. The governor can tell the difference. Our law enforcement officers can tell the difference.”

Presenting reporters with two new photos — one of a peaceful protest, and one of a person with his hands full of apparently looted goods — the sheriff continued: “In the event you didn’t get that, let me show you something. This is a peaceful protest. This is looting. If you loot, the next thing you can try to steal is something off of your food tray at the county jail. Because you’re going to jail. That’s a guarantee. And we’re going to enjoy taking you down there.”

He went on to introduce a third pair of pictures.

“Some people are slow learners,” Judd said, eliciting chuckles from the officials standing next to him.

“This is peaceful protest,” he said, referring to the first photo.

“This is violence,” he added in reference to an image of a man trying to damage a car. “It’s not acceptable. I truly believe in our God-given right, in our constitutional right, to speak openly and freely, to address our government. That’s important. We listen every day.”


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