image from Facebook/Clay County Sheriff’s Office
So far things have been quiet and protests have been peaceful in Clay County, Florida, and Sheriff Darryl Daniels wants to keep it that way. In a video posted to Facebook from the account of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Daniels warns would be rioters and looters what to expect if they try to do damage in the local community.
“Somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say ‘enough is enough,’” promises the sheriff in the video, adding “if we can’t handle you …. I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county.”
“In Clay County we have a great quality of life,” argues the sheriff while standing in a line of Clay County sheriff’s deputies. “We have a great relationship with our community, but across this country not so much. I just wanted to take a stand with these men and these women who feel the same way that I do. Lawlessness? That’s unacceptable in this country. Lawlessness? That’s unacceptable in Clay County. And if you threaten to come to Clay County and think for one second that we’ll bend our backs to you, you’re sadly mistaken.”
According to the sheriff’s department, Clay County hasn’t seen any major protests, but the office has had to deal with some recent vandalism.
News4Jax reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for clarification on the purpose behind the post.
Assistant Chief Keith Smith said the agency saw a “very slight increase” in threats from outsiders to start a protest or to damage public property.
Chief Smith said he was part of the crew that cleaned up graffiti from vandals who had targeted a building next to church last week.
“We don’t want this to get out of hand,” Smith said in a phone interview with News4Jax. “We want people to know you have every right to protest, and we will protect that, but Clay County will not tolerate outside instigators.”
Sheriff Daniels is facing a re-election challenge in the August primary, with three opponents who are running to replace him. Daniels is also the subject of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into an affair with a subordinate employee when Daniels was employed by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and it could be that this post was “red meat” tossed out to voters, as the website FloridaPolitics.com alleges.
On the other hand, it could also be a genuine statement of fact: Clay County isn’t going to put up with the scenes that have played out in the streets of major American cities and even some small towns over the past month. I don’t know how much the video will help the sheriff’s re-election bid, but I hope it helps to keep violent agitators on their best behavior if they decide to make Clay County a target.