Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd has a simple message for anyone intent on rioting, looting, or burning down homes or businesses: the Second Amendment is alive and well in the county.
Judd said there were rumblings on social media that rioters planned to bring violence into the neighborhoods of Polk County.
“I would tell them, if you value your life, they probably shouldn’t do that in Polk County. Because the people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be in their homes tonight with their guns loaded, and if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I’m highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns. So, leave the community alone,” Judd said.
Not a lot of nuance there. The sheriff says a protest Sunday afternoon in Lakeland, Florida was peaceful, but Sunday evening officers received word of a planned attack on police.
Judd said they received information that law enforcement would come under attack at 8 p.m. near Interstate 4 and Highway 27, but the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol were ready.
Judd said the Highway Patrol did a “marvelous job” helping stop the few who showed up for that alleged effort.
“We are going to hunt you down and lock you up if you engage in any criminal conduct,” Judd said.
Sheriff Judd says that he believes in and supports the First Amendment right along with our other constitutionally protected rights, but he hopes that protesters keep their focus on the death of George Floyd.
“All of that ugliness has taken away from what we’re united about,” the sheriff said. “We’re united about the conduct that you saw with George [Floyd].”
I’m glad to see Sheriff Judd not only speak up in support of residents to protect themselves from those who would seek to do them harm, but I’m not exactly surprised. I’ve had the chance to talk with Sheriff Judd on multiple occasions over the past few years and he’s always been a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, though we disagree about a few things like banning bump stocks. The fact that Judd acknowledged that George Floyd should be alive today is also incredibly important, and the sheriff’s comments echo those made by other law enforcement officers around the nation in condemning the actions that led to the death of Floyd in Minneapolis one week ago. Green County, Tennessee Sheriff Wesley Holt also spoke out about Floyd’s death a press conference on Monday.
“In reference to the George Floyd situation, I have to say that after watching the videos, I was frustrated to see how these officers treated Mr. Floyd even after being handcuffed. These officers have stained every professional law enforcement officer who swore an oath to protect and defend the communities they serve,” Holt said in an email.
Holt said the actions of the Minneapolis officers threaten to overshadow the dedication and professionalism of law enforcement in places like Greene County.
“I have always told our officers at the department to treat everyone with respect as if you were in their shoes. It is disturbing to see how all law enforcement officers are now considered targets for what a few officers chose to do,” Holt said. “We have a great group of law enforcement officers in Greene County who go out each day and put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of Greene County.”
It is possible to be angry about the death of George Floyd and the rioting and looting that’s taken place across the country since his death. In fact, I’d say that’s where most of America is at the moment, though you’d never guess it by watching or listening to the mainstream media. Justice for George Floyd won’t come from broken windows and shattered lives, and the promise of a better country built on the ashes of a burned-out nation rings hollow to most of us. We are striving, however imperfectly, towards the more perfect union promised in the Constitution, and the only way to get there is to start on the common ground where we can find it.