George Floyd protests: DeSantis deploys 700 more Florida National Guard soldiers to aid law enforcement

ORLANDO, Fla. — The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week has sparked nationwide protests, including unrest in several cities in Florida.

With some protests turning violent over the weekend, Gov. Ron DeSantis has deployed an additional 700 Florida National Guard soldiers to help preserve public safety.

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“Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting and looting,” DeSantis said in a statement. “George Floyd’s murder was appalling, and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.”

Over the weekend, Tampa stores were looted, Miami protestors turned violent and Jacksonville dealt with destruction.

Curfews were put in place on Sunday to curb some of the demonstrations that were getting out of hand.

The governor's office said the specially trained units were put on standby from Saturday.

Their main job is to support local law enforcement with crowd control, traffic control and anything else needed.

“I am in constant contact with state and local leaders, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Florida National Guard and the Florida Highway Patrol,” DeSantis said.

Protestors marched to the Florida Capitol on Monday morning, but canceled the march to the governor's mansion.

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Florida has an attritional 2,378 Guardsmen on duty in support of the state's COVID-19 response.

Guardsmen are operating 25 community-based testing sites where they have helped administer more than 292,000 sample collections, officials said.

Officials said the Florida National Guard is also working across the state for a variety of missions, which include medical support and distribution of necessary commodities.

National Guard troops are also activated in 21 states and Washington, D.C.