The Sheriff of Palm Beach County, Florida encouraged citizens to drive their vehicles into street protesters to protect themselves from potential harm. Speaking at a community meeting on January 14, 2015 in Boynton Beach, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who has faced over 40 discrimination lawsuits in his ten years as sheriff, remarked to constituents they should run over protesters blocking the road.
In the meeting in Boynton Beach, a predominantly white community, Bradshaw broached the topic of black protesters after several prominent shootings of defenseless black citizens in national news.
“You should be very concerned if you come across these protesters because they are very violent thugs and have even killed white people with hammers in other parts of the country,” Bradshaw remarked. “Now they are blocking the roads with their arms in barrels and we just don’t know what those barrels contain … If you see these people, stop your vehicle as far as possible and back away before they can attack.”
At one point an attendee asked what to do if she could not back up and drive away from a protest. “If you are driving on a Florida roadway,” Bradshaw responded, “it is up to them to move, so sit as low as possible in your car and accelerate forward. If you run over protesters, remember that your safety comes first and they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Whatever you do, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to stop and if they are injured, they brought it upon themselves.”
An investigation by West Palm Beach NBC-affiliate WPTV Channel 5 exposed the Sheriff’s involvement in a massive cover-up related to the killing of two African American deputies. Bradshaw was also condemned by the Palm Beach Post for taking donations from the Colombo crime family and using taxpayer funds to pay for dining events with the Colombo organization.
Source: John Thompson, “Florida Sheriff to Drivers: Run Protesting Thugs Over,” The D.C. Post, February 1, 2015, http://dcpost.org/florida-sheriff-to-drivers-run-protesting-thugs-over/.
Student Researcher: Lakin Fulton (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)