A deputy in Jacksonville was either stabbed or slashed in the neck when a peaceful protest turned into a destructive riot, the Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters Saturday night. The deputy is recovering at a hospital.
“He was out here doing his job when he was attacked,” Williams said, adding that he believes that the violence was instigated by “an out-of-town influence.”
Other deputies were injured from rocks and bricks that were thrown at them. The protesters vandalized several police cars, lighting the vehicles on fire, and broke windows, Willams said.
Violence and destruction also broke out in Tampa, where at least two deputies were injured at University Square Mall when responding to vandalism and looting.
One deputy was hit in the head with a hard object, while a second was injured when a firework struck his helmet, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister wrote on Twitter. Both were taken to a hospital. No updates on their conditions were available.
“The actions of these rioters, such devastation for our community,” Chronister said.
A Mobil gas station in the area was also set on fire as other retail stores, including CVS and a jewelry store, had windows smashed, FOX13 Tampa reported.
“We are better than this, Tampa Bay,” Chronister said. “Violence and looting is not the answer, and will not be tolerated.”
Police have arrested nearly 1,700 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press, as riots spread across the country.
The violence was sparked by anger over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Monday, which was captured on cellphone video. The four police officers who were arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill were fired Tuesday. Third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges were filed Friday against the officer who used his knee to pin Floyd down, as Floyd pleaded for air.
The increasing number of riots has led to curfews in major cities and calls for the National Guard to be deployed to cities and states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.