ST. PETERSBURG — An armed protester from Lakeland is accused of throwing a foam object at St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway and another police official late Wednesday, according to the agency.
Abraham Naveed Quraishi, 26, was arrested on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon in commission of a felony and resisting an officer with violence and misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and inciting a riot, according to St. Petersburg police.
The incident took place at about 10:30 p.m. outside police headquarters at 1301 First Avenue N. A group of about 30 protesters was asked by officers to leave the street because it was about to be reopened to traffic, police said.
From behind a barricade, Quraishi threw a 40mm foam baton round at Holloway and a group of police majors, the agency said. The round is a “pain compliance” crowd-control weapon, and law enforcement on both sides of the bay have fired such rounds during the recent demonstrations.
When he threw the object, police said the gun was spotted in the right side of his waistband. He then “fought” and struck officers when they placed him under arrest, police said.
The official St. Petersburg Police Department Twitter account tweeted a photo of the pistol and a loaded magazine.
Quraishi does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Florida. The firearm was not stolen, police said, and Quraishi declined to say how he obtained it.
It was the latest in a series of troubling incidents that have occurred amid peaceful marches across St. Petersburg to protest race-based police violence and the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who was killed May 25 while in police custody.
Early Tuesday, three people were arrested when police learned they were driving in an SUV carrying materials that could be used to make an explosive device known as a Molotov cocktail.
St. Petersburg officers said that at about 12:16 a.m. they found bricks, rocks, a gas can, glass bottles and “materials used to assemble crude incendiary devices commonly known as a ‘Molotov cocktail’” inside a red Mitsubishi Outlander parked on Central Avenue, near the police department, according to arrest reports. A protest organizer condemned the allegations.
Then when protesters’ vehicles circumvented concrete barriers blocking the roads around police headquarters, police officers and sheriff’s deputies quickly broke up the crowd.
That day, demonstrators resumed peaceful marches around the city.
However, police said a group had been setting off fireworks during Tuesday’s marches. So when protesters again assembled outside police headquarters late that night, police declared an unlawful assembly at 11:48 p.m., signaling officers are about to actively disperse protesters.
Officers again threw smoke grenades onto the front landing. But this time someone threw large fireworks, or mortars, back at the building.
St. Petersburg police officers and sheriff’s deputies arrested 23 people who authorities said refused to leave. A Tampa Bay Times reporter was briefly detained, but the chief quickly ordered that he be freed.
Police say that one protester had a backpack filled with fireworks. Their name and charges were not released.
Quraishi was being held Thursday without bail in the Pinellas County jail.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the name of the man who was arrested and new details of the incident.