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Protests continue in St. Petersburg, despite the heat

Local businesses showed their support on 16th Street S.
Protesters take a break from marching at the roundabout on Central Ave. on Friday, June 19, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
Protesters take a break from marching at the roundabout on Central Ave. on Friday, June 19, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jun. 25, 2020
Updated Jun. 25, 2020

Despite a heat advisory that lasted through most of the afternoon, protesters continued to march through the streets in downtown St. Petersburg.

A smaller crowd of about 30 walked down Central Avenue with signs and continued to chant at 2 p.m. More met outside City Hall around 7 p.m. for a second round.

There were nearly 70 people, who stopped to kneel in intersections along 16th Street S and listen to St. Pete Peace Protest leaders talk about the importance of voting and why they continue to march, even as the intensity has begun to die down weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. One protester reminded the white allies among the group that “showing up was the bare minimum.”

William Breeze, one of event organizers, spoke about Sojourner Truth — the first Black woman to successfully sue a white man in the 1800s. He also mentioned Ruby Bridges — the first Black child to desegregate schools in 1960 at the age of six.

Employees from local businesses showed their support for the march on 16th Street by raising their fists and some even lit fireworks. The manager of a Salem’s Gyros and Subs came out and offered every protester a free drink.

Protesters stood in silence for 15 seconds to honor the memory of TyRon Lewis, a man who was stopped and killed by police officers in St. Petersburg in 1996.

Several cars trailed the march, blaring their horns in support as the group marched on into the night.

Related: Lawyers march in support of Black Lives Matter in Tampa

In Tampa, attorneys from across Hillsborough County gathered outside the downtown courthouse to express their support of the Black Lives Matter. Nearly 200 people marched the half mile loop through downtown, which remained peaceful and calm. The protest ended by 6 p.m.

There was no police presence at marches on both sides of the bay on Wednesday.

In St. Petersburg, protest leaders are committed to holding two protests a day - generally at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. - for at least a year, they said.

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Coverage of local and national protests from the Tampa Bay Times

HOW TO SUPPORT: Whether you’re protesting or staying inside, here are ways to educate yourself and support black-owned businesses.

WHAT PROTESTERS WANT: Protesters explain what changes would make them feel like the movement is successful.

WHAT ARE NON-LETHAL AND LESS-LETHAL WEAPONS? A guide to what’s used in local and national protests.

WHAT ARE ARRESTED PROTESTERS CHARGED WITH? About half the charges filed have included unlawful assembly.

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