Businesses, neighbors brace for possibility of more Clair-Mel unrest

Local law enforcement agencies are formulating plans for dealing with situations like that gripping Charlotte this week.

Tampa, FL -- In Tampa's Clair-Mel neighborhood there is still anger, and even the threat of violent protests after a Hillsborough deputy shot and killed what turned out to be an unarmed black man during a drug raid.

For now, officials have been content to form a perimeter around demonstrators - allowing them to vent their frustration.

But now, with the possibility of more protests, people whose lives and livelihoods are on the inside of that police line say they’re nervous about that strategy.

 In Clair-Mel, tempers are still simmering. Hints of more demonstrations aren’t hard to find.

“People been asking for it for a long time,” said Travis Kelly, “It's time to make a little noise, let these people know what's happening.”

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies responded in force, but kept their distance even as fires burned and traffic was, in some cases, stopped.

“My mom drove past it and someone like, almost broke her window,” said neighbor Scarlet Knott.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says it works to maintain a delicate balance between protecting the public and peaceful protestors - without fueling more anger. 

“Once we have to get more involved with different tactics, there's no coming back from that,” said HCSO Colonel Chad Chronister.

The problem that poses for business owners like Norma Shah is that her laundromat sits inside the police perimeter. Those were her signs being burned the night of the last big demonstration.

And when she hears neighbors like Alexander Cox say, “We're not stopping until we see CNN. We want CNN out here,” Shah gets nervous.

“They were starting to throw rocks,” said Shah, referring to the last round of unrest. “How do you know they're not going to come here and start hurting people here?”

Colonel Chronister offered Shah and others who live and work in Clair-Mel his personal assurance.

“We're going to make every concerted effort to protect everyone on both sides,” he said.

Neighbors and local businesses say they're not nearly as concerned about local people venting their frustrations as they are about the possibility of outsiders coming into the area and doing damage, knowing that they can then leave.

“It's hurting the community,” said Barbara Anderson who’s lived in Clair-Mel nearly 30 years.

Alexander Cox, who was out there during the first round of demonstrations says people are angry, but have shown restraint.

“We could've burned the store right here. We could've burned all of this. But we didn't. We chose not to. Because were showing them that were better than that. We just want justice that's all,” said Cox.

Community leaders, pleading for calm, plan to be back in Clair-Mel again Friday night.

The Sheriff’s Office says they’ve also heard about more activity in the area planned for this weekend and are ready to respond as needed. 

 

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