Clay County Florida Sheriff Darryl Daniels warned protesters in a video Tuesday he will “deputize” all “lawful gun owners” if protesters become too violent.
The video posted on YouTube Tuesday depicts Daniels standing in front of deputies while he told protesters they are wrong to think the sheriff and deputies will surrender if they “threaten to come to Clay County.”
“If we can’t handle you, you know what I’ll do. I will exercise the power and authority as the Sheriff and I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county,” Daniels said.
“And I’ll deputize them for this one purpose, to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility. That’s what we’re sworn to do and that’s what we’re gonna do. You’ve been warned,” he said at the end of the video.
Earlier in the video, Daniels said he and the other deputes will protect peaceful protesters’ Constitutional rights until they become violent, warning them violent protesters will get “everything they want.”
“And we’ll give you everything you want, all the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour and glory for all that five minutes will give you,” Daniels said.
“Is it a threat? Absolutely not,” he added. “But somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say, enough is enough. Tearing up Clay County, that’s not going to be acceptable.”
Protests over police brutality and racial inequality descended into violence across the U.S. since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. Protesters and activists are pulling down statues and are demanding politicians defund the police.
Clay County has had a minor increase in threats and property damage from outsiders, Clay County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Keith Smith told News4Jax. Clay County’s Orange Park Athletic Association was defaced June 25, News4Jax reported.
“We don’t want this to get out of hand,” Smith told News4Jax Wednesday. “We want people to know you have every right to protest, and we will protect that, but Clay County will not tolerate outside instigators.”
Daniels is facing a primary in August against five Republicans, according to News4Jax.
The Sheriff’s Office of Public Affairs in Clay County did not respond immediately to the Daily Caller News Foundation.