TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of downtown Tampa Monday night.
They demanded what they call “killer cops” be taken off the street and did their best to make sure everyone heard their message that “Black Lives Matter.”
Ever since two black men were shot and killed in the last week by police officers, cries could be heard across the country. The Black Lives Matter movement has sprung into action after the shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb.
Since then, there have been demonstrations and protests in several major cities, including Tampa.
The protest began at Gaslight Park just across the street from Tampa Police headquarters and by the time it was over, demonstrators had taken over parts of the city. It began with a rally at the park but from there, protestors began marching through the streets. A handful of Tampa Police bicycle officers would block them off on one side of the street going up North Ashley Drive towards the Interstate 275 entrance ramp.
Each time, the protestors would move to the other side of the street until they reached East Tyler Street and that’s where Tampa police reinforcements stepped in and drew a line in the sand. Police refused to allow anyone to cross that line and even though there were some verbal skirmishes, no one crossed the line but demonstrators did sit down in the middle of the intersection.
This caused traffic inconveniences to some at the end of the rush hour.
About half an hour later after protestors said what they had to say and stood up and sang songs in a big circle, they marched back to Gaslight Park where everything came to an end peacefully.
“We’re the ones that are being targeted and that’s why black lives need to matter to them more,” said protestor Dwayne Tillman. It was the first protest for the 23-year-old Tampa resident.
At the same time, some spectators stood on the route in disbelief.
“If you obey the police, there won’t be trouble,” said James Carmon on Tampa who just shook his head. “Stop harassing the police and we don’t have these problems.”
Everyone admits the problems are there, and all agree there has to be discussion and then action on the way towards some type of solution.
“Like the mortal wounds, you have to stop the bleeding and that doesn’t mean anything violent, it just means you have to find a way,” said protestor Glenn Eich.
In comparison to other protests around the country, no one in Tampa was either injured or arrested.