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:
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.
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.
Here’s part of the sheriff’s statement:
Volusia Sheriff defends against accusations of racism in arrests at DeLand block party