Sheriff’s office accused of racial profiling releases video of massive Florida block party held amid coronavirus pandemic

About 3,000 people gathered across DeLand, Fla., for block parties spanning several locations Saturday and into Sunday.
About 3,000 people gathered across DeLand, Fla., for block parties spanning several locations Saturday and into Sunday.(Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida sheriff’s office accused of racial profiling has released body camera video that shows officers attempting to break up a massive block party that allegedly turned violent.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said authorities initially learned about the event, held across several blocks in the predominantly African American community of Spring Hill, through a flyer, according to WESH. Organizers said the gathering was being held in honor of a man killed years ago, though police said there was no mention of a memorial on the poster.
Authorities’ release of the bodycam clips on Monday come after partygoers told The West Volusia Beacon that the weekend gathering was targeted because of its black attendees. An estimated 3,000 people joined together for the event.
“Because the majority of those in the crowd were black, and the deputies and police were white, we are now having ... hard conversations about race, racism and inequality,” Chitwood said in response.

"I don’t accept the accusations that our deputies and police are racists, or that their actions Saturday were racially motivated. It’s not true, and it’s not a fair conclusion from the video.
“But given everything we know about our nation’s history, I also know those feelings aren’t just about Saturday night,” he added.
In the clip, officers from the DeLand Police Department and Volusia County Sheriff’s Office can be seen telling attendees to get out of the road and move their cars. At another point, it shows an officer detaining a man, who allegedly threw a shotgun before attempting to flee from authorities.
Partygoers can also be heard shouting, demanding to know why people are being detained.
“This is what they do to black people,” a partygoer told The West Volusia Beacon following the incident. “It’s not fair.”

According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, someone in a car pointed a rifle or a shotgun at officers. DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said one of his officers was struck in the head with a glass jar while a deputy was struck with a bar stool "and another sustained a leg injury.”

Chitwood added that seven people were arrested in connection with the party, including two men facing charges of possession of a weapon and ammunition by a convicted felon, tampering with evidence, and resisting arrest.

Details on the additional arrests were not immediately released.

The city recently canceled all future public events because of the coronavirus pandemic, even though Gov. Ron DeSantis has allowed counties to begin reopening this month.

“No one should be getting together in groups of 50 or more,” Umberger said.

A man who had been at the party was later admitted to a hospital after being shot in the foot.

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