Deputies close U.S. 301 in Riverview as protest grows

A protest against police brutality forced deputies to close U.S. 301 in the Riverview area Tuesday, as the crowd spilled into the roadway.

Demonstrators gathered at the corner of 301 and Big Bend Road Tuesday afternoon and the crowd only grew as the evening went on.

At one point, nearly 1,000 people filled the sidewalks and roadways. For the most part, deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the protesters were peaceful, with the exception of one tense moment.

At one point, the protestors focused on a group of deputies, surrounding them on the street and then following as the deputies boarded their bus. However, the protesters only expressed anger through their words—chanting and shouting “enough is enough” and calling for and end to the use of force in policing.

Other than that, traffic was the main issue. Sheriff Chad Chronister warned drivers early that there might be traffic issues in the area.

"We are asking drivers to find alternative routes prior to beginning their evening commute and to drive with caution through the area of U.S. 301 and Big Bend Road in anticipation of potential road closures," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "We want to create a safe environment for everyone, both protesters and motorists."

The recent protests around the area and the country are in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody. The Minnesota officer who arrested him has since been charged with murder.

Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful. But over the weekend, protests led to violent looting and riots in north Tampa. Two deputies were injured and several businesses were ransacked or destroyed.