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How Would Tallahassee Handle A Violent Protest? Mayor Gillum Reacts to Baltimore Riots

Baltimore Riots
Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-29 18:27:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)-- Earlier this week, riots rocked the city of Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year-old black man that died from a spinal injury while in police custody. 

Some of those riots and demonstrations turned violet, causing more than 200 people to be arrested Monday night. In response, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a 10 p.m. curfew.

But what if an incident like the Baltimore riots happened in Tallahassee?

Mayor Andrew Gillum says the city has worked to put strong relationships between citizens, law enforcement, and law makers in place. 

He adds that those relationships play a role in preventing mass riots. "When something like this happens, you're able to have good communication with people. You can talk. You can pull folks to the side and you can organize. We take our relationships in the community in such a way that you reduce potential incidences of violence," said Mayor Gillum. 

For example, local activists "The Dream Defenders" tried to rally together and shut down traffic during a local, holiday parade. In response, the city of Tallahassee reached out to the group to compromise and give them a platform for their voices to be heard while following the law.

In Baltimore, thousands of extra officers were called into to face off with the angry protesters, but not every scene in the city was violent.

There were scenes of hope and unity, as citizens lined up to protect officers from ensuing violence and children gave bottle of water to the police waiting in the heat. 

Those scenes helped show that not everyone involved in the protests were out to cause harm. That's one reason Mayor Gillum says Rawlings-Blake's response was inappropriate. 

"An over response was not advisable. Because I believe there were protests going on that were peaceful, that organized, that were legal and then there was a criminal element introduced," said Mayor Gillum.

The mayor added that it's important to give residents an outlet to express themselves. However, if things do go awry during a protest or demonstration, Mayor Gillum adds there is the power to intervene and bring situations under control, which could mean arrests or street barricades.