On Saturday afternoon, a counter-protester displayed a weapon during a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the historic state Capitol building.
Videos circulating on social media show a fight breaking out among a protester and the counter-protester. The next thing seen is the counter-protester drawing his weapon on a protester who is kneeling. The man starts waving his gun at the crowd of more than 100 people. Members of the Tallahassee Police Department are then seen coming in to arrest the man.
Witnesses said that this all started with the man taking pictures of the protesters’ licenses plates and arguing with many of them. As the Black Lives Matter protesters were chanting “Black Lives Matter,” a small group of counter-protesters were yelling “All Lives Matter.”
A press release issued today by the City of Tallahassee and the police department said: “The evidence confirmed the physical altercation between numerous protesters and that the individual was knocked to the ground and under attack before lawfully defending himself.”
Upton Fisher, a fourth year social work major at FAMU, felt strongly about what transpired Saturday. “If it was anybody else [in this situation] we all know that the outcome would be different, like why would someone bring a gun to a peaceful protest?”
He added that being involved with the protests meant a lot to him. It“shows that people are willing to fight and stand up for what is right,” he said.
Tensions have been running high across the country since the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Monday. Many cities haven’t stopped rallying since the killings of others such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. With the protests and violence against these protesters happening at the hands of their local police departments and counter-protesters, witnesses were worried that Saturday’s situation could have become a fatal encounter for some of the protesters.
Niyah Lewis, a third-year political science major at FAMU, was a speaker at a march for justice that focused on social justice and voting initiatives held earlier that day. “We’re seeing that since George Floyd has died, every single day since then, cities across America haven’t let up and it speaks to the perseverance to the African-American community and the resilience to our generation as a whole. We haven’t let up, we won’t let up,” Lewis said.
The Tallahassee Police Department has confirmed that the individual with the gun was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon. TPD said in a release Sunday that it has decided to not press charges against the counter-protester.