A counterprotester who pulled a gun during a Florida Black Lives Matter rally Saturday won’t be charged because he was defending himself, police announced Sunday.
The white man, who has not been publicly identified by police, “entered” the protest and began documenting the event when he was pushed from behind by a white protester, according to the Tallahassee Police Department.
A “physical altercation” ensued and the man was eventually pushed to the ground. When he got back up, he pulled out his gun.
Police intervened and took the man into custody.
Aaron Ferguson told the Tallahassee Democrat that the man pointed the gun at him before police stopped him.
“It was all just 60 seconds but it felt much longer,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t know why he would bring violence to a peaceful protest, when he pulled the gun out it all went rank.”
Ferguson said the man raged into the crowd and shoved a female protester, which caused the scuffle.
Tallahassee police said the man was “lawfully defending himself” with a licensed weapon and declined to press charges.
Officials also criticized the protesters for not filing proper paperwork ahead of time.
“Impromptu protests do not allow for adequate TPD support and create potentially dangerous conflicts with vehicles and other individuals,” the police department said in a statement.
“To keep everyone involved safe, local protests must be permitted to allow for proper staffing, notifications and safety measures to be put in place. This helps protect both participants and the community at large.”