Gov. Tate Reeves’ said Wednesday that he supports peaceful protests throughout the state and is glad to see organizers provide masks and stress the peaceful nature of their protests.
“We will have protests this weekend and the organizers have every intention of them being peacefully done,” he said. “Mississippians do not want to tear down our state. ... They want to be heard.”
Demonstrations in Mississippi are coinciding with nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody, as well as the deaths of other unarmed black men allegedly at the hands of police over the past few years.
Though the Mississippi National Guard has been deployed to Washington, D.C., and Mississippi has sent “assets” to another state, Reeves does not anticipate the need to use the National Guard to support police officers during the protests in Mississippi, nor does he think it will be necessary for U.S. military personnel to come to Mississippi.
He said he is proud of the precautions protestors in Mississippi are taking because he has seen a lack of masks and proper precautions from protestors in other states, and he does not want to see the protests spread the virus further.
A reporter asked Reeves if he had heard the police officers who detained George Floyd, whose death sparked the protests, had been arrested as accessories to murder, and the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck had his charge upgraded.
“From what I have seen from the tapes, it is certainly understandable,” Reeves said of prosecutors upgrading the charge. “I believe everyone deserves their day in court, and George Floyd lost his chance.”
Reeves went as far as to suggest the federal government should investigate whether the officers violated federal laws as well. Reeves said we as a country have to prosecute “all those who have crossed a line,” be they rioters or officers.
When asked about a Madison County prosecutor’s post saying she hopes the coronavirus spreads through the riots, Reeves said that he personally does not wish the same. Pamela Hancock said in a now-deleted Facebook post that “we can only hope the deadly strain” of the coronavirus “spreads in riots.” Hancock said in an interview that she was “really just making light of it.”