ST. PETERSBURG — A group of demonstrators accused of driving around with potential projectiles was arrested late Monday night by St. Petersburg police. Little more than an hour later, officers broke up a late-night rally outside its own headquarters early Tuesday.
Police officials said they had earlier received information that a vehicle linked to protesters carried items that “could be used as projectiles.”
Then just before midnight, officers said they pulled over a red SUV nearby in the 1200 block of Central Avenue. Inside, police said officers found bricks, glass bottles, rocks, a plastic gas can and a metal pipe inside.
Three people were arrested: Eddie Bryant, 28, of St. Petersburg; Javonta McCloud, 28, of Clearwater; and Lady Nicole Nash, 29, of Largo. Police did not say what charges they face.
In what appeared to be a separate arrest, Anthony Thomas Koedel, 29, was arrested on a charge of inciting a riot, police said. He has helped organize the protests in St. Petersburg over the past three days.
A group of 150 protesters that spent late Monday night demonstrating around downtown had marched to the police department’s front door. Officers dispersed them at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“As you saw earlier tonight, there were some people here doing peaceful demonstrations, that’s what we want to see,” St. Petersburg Police Chief Tony Holloway said. “But the people that are not going to be peaceful, those are the ones that are going to go to jail."
There was no property damage and no one appeared to be injured.
Demonstrators have spent three days marching through St. Petersburg, joining national protests against police violence and the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis. They kneeled in intersections while being trailed by vehicles playing music and honking their horns.
But on Monday, officers set up concrete jersey barriers around police headquarters at 1301 First Ave N, blocking traffic from approaching the building.
Then early Tuesday, as protesters once again marched toward the police building, the chief said this time their vehicles somehow circumvented the barriers.
Because of the earlier threat officers discovered in the red SUV, the chief said the approach of those vehicles promoted police to declare an “unlawful assembly.”
An officer with a bullhorn announced the unlawful assembly at about 1:15 a.m. Minutes later, officers tossed smoke grenades outside the building, producing loud bursts of sound.
Then St. Petersburg police and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office vehicles quickly poured onto First Avenue N, emergency lights and sirens activated.
Lines of helmeted, shield-bearing officers formed and started marching through downtown as the protesters and their vehicles quickly disappeared.