Just days after it was lifted, the curfew is back in Orange County.
Orange County will be shut down between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am. The curfew began Sunday night and will run indefinitely.
The curfew was put back in place a day after looters hit several businesses in Orange County, including shops outside the Mall of Millenia in Orlando, the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee and a jewelry store in south Orange County where a criminal used a stolen church van to ram their way into the store and rob the place, causing more than $200,000 in damage.
Orange Sheriff John Mina admitted that the numerous break-ins outside of downtown Orlando were likely the result of law enforcement concentrating on keeping the large crowds under control, “probably people taking advantage of the activity in the downtown area related to the protests down there.”
Despite the seemingly readily apparent causation of a new lockdown order, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings strongly denied the curfew was to prevent looting.
“My top goal is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Demings said.
Demings was adamant that protesters and looters did not lead to the curfew coming back.
“The decision to again institute a curfew really had nothing to do with trying to stifle individuals from being able to exercise their First Amendment rights. That really wasn’t our goal. My goal, again, is to stop the spread of the virus, and I take that role and responsibility very seriously,” Demings said.
The mayor said little about the effect of the curfew, telling the media that “it may inconvenience some, but we’ll get through it,”
Each night, Orlando police have dispersed crowds with tear gas after giving them between 15 and 30 minutes to disperse from downtown protests once 10 pm came and the curfew was in effect.
Demings said what he has seen at the protests is not helping with the coronavirus emergency.
“What I saw this weekend, as numerous demonstrations occurred in our community, is that large crowds were gathered. There were many individuals who were not wearing facial masks. They were in immediate proximity to one another which created an environment where if one of them had the virus, for that virus to spread very rapidly,” Demings said.
While the mayor has expressed understanding about why thousands of Central Florida residents have taken to the streets, he did not give a thumbs up to those protests, revealing much about his sense and style of governing.
“I do understand the passion of many people who have been affected by the emotional aspect associated with the death of George Floyd and what that signifies about America. By the same token, we cannot relax our efforts to stop the virus in its tracks in this community, and so my focus as Orange County mayor and this role of a state of emergency, I, therefore, become the emergency manager for the entire county. Sometimes I think the role of government is to protect its citizenry from itself, and so that is what we are going to continue to do,” Demings said.
Three law enforcement officers were hit with bottles or rocks during the early days of the protests with none of them suffering serious injuries. The Orange County curfew will remain in effect indefinitely.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.