A state of emergency has been declared with a curfew in eastern Hendry County in response to a planned protest in Clewiston.
Sheriff Steve Whidden said Tuesday he’s declaring a state of emergency and a curfew will be in place for “eastern Hendry County” from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.
Whidden said the decision was made after a social media announcement that Black Lives Matter is attempting to organize a protest at the Walmart in Clewiston. The sheriff said threats of looting, damage, and fires have also been made.
The Clewiston Police Department said late Tuesday that the Walmart store has adjusted its hours for Wednesday and the City of Clewiston is evaluating whether a curfew should be in place within city limits.
The sheriff’s office said residents of eastern Hendry County must remain at home during the curfew and travel is restricted to that of essential only, including to and from work.
“What happened to Mr. George Floyd was uncalled for and the people responsible should pay for their despicable acts and I’m confident they will. However, it is a sad day when I am forced to take this drastic action to protect our citizens from the anarchy and lawlessness of a fringe population that wants to incite our neighbors to commit crimes and harm the people in their own communities,” Whidden said. “I will take whatever measures I feel are necessary and I encourage the citizens of Hendry County to be prepared to defend their property and families, should that need arise. I will always protect the right of the people to peaceably protest but when crimes occur, it is my duty to respond.”