The following is a press release issued by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office:
During weekend demonstrations, protesters vandalized the fountain, spray painted the statue of General A.P. Stewart, and destroyed light fixtures located on the historic Hamilton County Courthouse property. The fountain, installed in 1912, sustained considerable damage with many of its historic parts destroyed. Last night, one of the light pillars was knocked over and another was moved off its base. With each light post weighing in excess of 400 pounds, county maintenance personnel had to use a crane to remove them for repair. Unfortunately, one of the original glass globes was destroyed.
HCSO deputies assigned to the Courthouse took three people into custody in association with Sunday night’s incident.
Once the vandals were placed in custody, several protesters attempted to climb the stairs to the balcony once again where deputies armed with less lethal beanbag weapons were positioned as they attempted to secure the area. Protesters ignored our personnel’s commands and continued to verbally assault officers and advance in a threatening posture.
As more law enforcement personnel arrived to assist deputies, another altercation took place when protesters attempted to grab a deputy and pull him into the crowd. Deputies immediately deployed CS gas for the protection of the deputy as well as the property to disperse unruly protesters. As this was a fast evolving incident with aggressive behavior, a warning of CS gas deployment was neither warranted or an option.
Sheriff Jim Hammond offered the following statement:
“For the last two nights, the HCSO has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to support and defend our citizens right to peaceably assemble and exercise their 1st amendment right. As a nation, free speech and the right to peaceably assemble it is one of our most fundamental rights. However, we will not tolerate unruly protesters vandalizing any property. Physical assaults upon my deputies will not stand and we will respond to these types of threats accordingly. The death of George Floyd was tragic and those involved in the incident will be held accountable and will have to answer for their actions in a court of law. Those who wish to protest the events that occurred in Minneapolis can do peacefully and will be supported by your sheriff’s office.
“Let me be clear, assaulting any person, including our local law enforcement, vandalizing buildings, destroying private property, and burning vehicles is not honoring Mr. Floyd or his death. I implore those who wish to protest to do so in a respectful, peaceful manner. I assure you your Sheriff’s Office will support your right to protest, but not if you endanger members of our community, threaten or assault members of law enforcement, or vandalize our buildings or personal property.”