A Republican, who is responsible for overseeing civil law enforcement, is prepared to enlist civilians to crack down on civil unrest in northeast Florida.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has warned anti-police protesters not to riot, loot, and vandalize anywhere in Clay County, 133 miles north of Orlando. Otherwise, he will be forced to temporarily appoint gun owners across the region to help enforce the law.
“Tearing up Clay County that is not going to be acceptable,” he said in a video shared on Facebook. “If we cannot handle you … I will make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in the county, I will deputize them to this one purpose: to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility.”
Daniels revealed extreme “anarchist” protests, which have swept across the nation since Minnesotan George Floyd died in police custody, would no longer be allowed to repeatedly break the law.
“If you threaten to come to Clay County and think that for one second we will bend our backs for you, you are sadly mistaken,” he said. “You can threaten all you want, you can say ‘Hey let us go to Clay County’ or ‘Let us go to some other peaceful counties where their problems do not exist,’ or not so much like across this country … you will have something waiting on you that you do not want.”
Daniels acknowledged the demonstrators have a constitutional right to peacefully express their views but he and his deputies would pounce the moment anyone crosses the line.
“The second that you step out from under the protection of the Constitution we will be waiting on you,” he said. “We will be giving everything you want, all the publicity, pain, glamor, and glory for all the five minutes we will give you. Is it a threat? Absolutely not but somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say enough is enough.”
He rejected recent mainstream media reports that portrayed him and his deputies as the “enemy of the citizens” they swore to protect and serve.
“Look folks, do not fall victim to subjecting yourselves to this conversation that law enforcement is bad,” he said. “I know what happens when lawlessness prevails and, in this day and time, God is raising up men and women … who will have strong backbones and will stand in the gap between lawlessness and the good citizenry.”
He is also disappointed with the lack of divine messages in recent news coverage of the protests.
“So help me God but God is absent from the media’s message, Black Lives Matter, or any other group out there that is making themselves respectable, disrupting what we know to be our quality of life in this country,” he said.
The sheriff hopes Clay County will continue to offer what he describes as a “great quality of life.”
“We have a great relationship with our community but across this country not so much,” he said. “I just wanted to take a stand for what these men and women who feel the same way that I do.”