TAMPA — After a Saturday where peaceful protests turned violent into the night, the City of Tampa announced a citywide curfew Sunday afternoon that will be in effect from 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday.
At a news conference Sunday night, Mayor Jane Castor said her executive order was made in an “abundance of caution" to keep the city safe. The curfew will be in place for all businesses and persons within the city, though essential trips, such as visits to the pharmacy or grocery store, will still be allowed. People who work late will also be allowed to travel to and from work, though bus lines may be disrupted.
“Law enforcement officers have worked very hard to make sure everyone has a safe platform to express themselves,” Castor said. “But we are not going to tolerate violence and we are not going to tolerate the destruction of property within the city limits.”
Castor said she hoped the curfew would be in effect for one night only, but may be extended as necessary.
Journalists are still allowed to cover protests, Castor said, though she said there would be no need for reporters to be on the streets since the protests should end by the curfew.
“We are asking all the peaceful protesters to please go home," she said. "We have agitators that are out there, they are out there right now, destroying property.”
One hundred Florida National Guardsmen will be stationed at possible “high-value” targets for looters as a “preventive measure,” Castor said.
Those who break the curfew, according to the release, will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 60 days imprisonment and/or a $500 fine. The release also says that those who are arrested while breaking the curfew order could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine.
Tampa Bay had three major protests on Saturday, all of which began peacefully. Things took a turn for the worse as the sun began to set in North Tampa, near Busch Gardens and later at University Mall, where tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse protesters who became violent toward police.
Other cities in Hillsborough County are not under curfew.
“I refuse to punish law-abiding citizens due to the lawless actions of a handful of criminals,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister posted on Twitter.