SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Rising anger continues over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many peaceful demonstrations turning violent in cities across the country. However, not here on the Suncoast. There were several protests in both Sarasota and Manatee counties over the weekend, and they all remained peaceful. Many say it’s because of the ongoing communication between officials and members of our communities. Residents marched their way through the Suncoast with the hope of shedding light to the issue of racial injustice and a transformative change for the future… and police were with them.
"Anybody who feels disenfranchised can understand that we want to work with them. We'll kneel with you,” said Josh Taylor, the Public Information Officer for the North Port Police Department.
Local law enforcement agencies all had one common message – they denounced the actions of that former Minneapolis police officer, and a promise to continue being transparent and compassionate with every person in the communities they serve.
“Now more than ever is the time to ensure that your relationships with people are strong because at the end of the day that’s the only way to keep things moving in the right direction here. It’s your relationships and good communication,” explained Bradenton Police Department’s Chief of Police Melanie Bevan.
As chaos ignites in other cites, officials on the Suncoast say they strongly believe the peace will not be broken here, but that they are ready for any potential unexpected situation.
“We would be remiss if we didn’t make sure we had staffing levels up and that we had all of our equipment needs covered, but even more so that we reach out to members of our communities and ensuring them. We spoke to Black Lives Matter and yesterday I was on a conference call with NAACP,” Chief Bevan said.
Police say they believe all local law enforcement on the Suncoast have been pro-active in building community relations and understanding their concerns.
"So we’re hopeful that as we have done that throughout the year, that when these types of issues come up, we’ve made those bonds and relationships that people can come and talk to us, instead of acting out in violence. We know that that is being done by a small percentage of people, the vast majority just has concerns over how different people are treated, and again, we’re receptive to that year-round,” expressed Taylor.