Friends who clashed with protesters outside St. Pete restaurant aim to clear their names

A heated clash with protesters was not on the menu that September evening, but it was unexpectedly served up anyway.  

Mikal Sean Guthrie and Ken Uhlmann say it was supposed to be a nice outdoor dinner at a St. Petersburg restaurant; two friends catching up, but they say it didn't last long.

"Had it escalated, it could have gotten pretty bad pretty quick," said Uhlmann. 

A group of marchers was protesting police brutality. As the vocal group passed by Guthrie and Uhlmann's outdoor table, Uhlmann says some began yelling obscenities against the police.

Meanwhile, Guthrie says one of the protesters began taking pictures of the diners.

"My thumbs-down was because it was violent and I didn't agree. I support the police and my city," explained Guthrie. 

Photos of the incident show Ulhmann gesturing with a different finger.

"I was clearly aggravated at the time he was taking my picture. I had no idea who he was, so I did what I did," said Uhlmann.  

The confrontation that followed went viral. Protesters took over their table. Guthrie is seen trying to pull a chair away from a protester and later is seen on the phone. She says she called 911 as the verbal altercation escalated.

"That’s when the kid who sat at the table started threatening her and me," said Uhlmann.  

The altercation never got physical, but when it was over, the damage had already been done. Their images were splashed across social media.

Guthrie, who is a schoolteacher, says she is a big supporter of people's right to protest.

 "I support equal rights for every single person," explained Guthrie. 

So does Ulhmann and believes having an open mind goes a long way.

 "I'll always listen to reason and I would love to have a conversation with somebody about some of those things they were protesting," said Uhlmann. 

Tampa attorney Chrissie Edwards, who represents both, said the short video doesn't begin to tell the whole story.

"This is a real story about two people who love their community," said Edwards.  

Two people who said they both feel they were falsely defined by 20 seconds of video.

"Not just, 'look at a clip.' Find the truth before they start throwing accusations," urged Guthrie. 

Edwards says her clients are not looking for another battle with anyone. They would like to start a conversation with local leaders to avoid this from happening again.