(WESH/NBC News) Florida law enforcement authorities deny the break-up of a massive weekend block party was racially motivated.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger say they were told the block party was supposed to be a celebration for a man who was murdered years ago and that organizers had a permit.
They also say that wasn’t true: there was not a permit and it wasn’t advertised as a memorial.
“To wave the race card around is a coward’s ways of saying this was out of control, this was an embarrassment,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.
Sheriff Chitwood and Chief Umberger say they got wind of the party in the predominately African American community of Spring Hill through a flyer which makes no mention of a memorial.
For much of the day, though large, it was generally peaceful. Officials said that changed as it got later in the evening.
“The thing that initially started it was a deputy had a rifle pointed at him and that’s when the whole dynamic changed,” Umberger said.
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