ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Before Governor Ron DeSantis announced the state will move onto Phase 3 of its reopening, he had a few words to share about the recent confrontations involving a group of St. Pete protesters that went viral.
The Wednesday night protests occurred hours after the grand jury's decision came down in the Breonna Taylor case, resulting in protests across the country and right in St. Petersburg.
DeSantis, on Friday, was just a few doors down from where the protesters were seen on video outside a restaurant, that appears to be Parkshore Grill, interrupting a couple's dinner.
Some were seen involved in a confrontation with a couple eating dinner. Two protesters sat down on their table and the woman says, "This is my table," and tries to unseat one of them. The footage was just over a minute long.
"What we saw here in St. Petersburg the other night with mobs harassing innocent people who are just enjoying a meal at a restaurant is simply unacceptable," he said. "If you go out here in the state of Florida and you're sitting in a restaurant, you should be able to do that in peace without having some lunatic come up and yell in your face."
Another video, nearly 20 seconds long, showed protesters blocking a nearby street.
Both clips, recorded by the Tampa Bay Times, are short. It doesn't show what preceded the confrontations or what occurred after the cameras stopped rolling.
Earlier in the week, DeSantis announced sweeping legislation to crack down on violent protesters and stiff criminal penalties for actions such as disrupting restaurants or toppling monuments.
"You see videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them on a public accommodation," DeSantis said on Monday while introducing the bill. "You aren't going to do that in state of Florida."
Obstructing traffic or blocking streets during an unpermitted protest could be third-degree felony if the bill passes. Drivers wouldn't be liable for injury or death if they are fleeing for safety.
"We had a big unveiling of some proposed legislation on Monday in terms of maintaining law and order and public safety and protecting the men and women who wear the uniform," DeSantis said Friday. "Part of the reason we did that is because of some of the activity we see across the country."
The proposal would also include cutting state funding to local governments who appear to be focusing on cuts to police departments.
He said the scenes that played out in St. Pete "should be dealt with anyways."
However, on Thursday, Chief Anthony Holloway, no one filed a formal complaint on the restaurant incident, and the driver involved in the separate confrontation didn't want to press charges.
St. Pete police initially said the female diner in the video did not call police, but after further reviewing the dispatch calls that night, they said the calltaker noted a man reported the restaurant incident. On Friday, they said the call notes were wrong, and the female diner involved in the confrontation was the caller.
Police said the tried to call her, but received a voicemail and left a message. In an second attempt, they said the voice on the other end was garbled and the call was disconnected.
A third attempt was made Friday, and police said they were unable to contact her.
"It's simply unacceptable to allow that type of behavior here in the state of Florida," DeSantis said. "So, for those law-abiding men and women who are trying to live their lives, we got your back, more help is on the way."