Police broke up a massive gathering in Florida on Easter Sunday, and a video of the bust has now emerged. More than 100 people were reportedly gathered outside of an affordable housing complex in Pensacola, Florida, for a holiday cookout when police arrived to send to them all home. During the operation, a resident broadcast the scene on Facebook Live.
The ill-advised cookout took place on the lawn of Attucks Court, an apartment complex in Pensacola, on April 12. People at the mass gathering were not wearing masks, nor were they maintaining the minimum recommended six feet of personal space. Cars were lined up on the grass until police arrived to intervene, according to a report by Fox News.
NO SOCIAL DISTANCING: We've received several videos of this Easter party in Pensacola yesterday. I took this video from a distance. Tonight on Ch3, find out why the police didn't break it up. @weartv #COVID19 #Easter #bigparty #Pensacola pic.twitter.com/4cmDBv3vpF— Rebekah Castor (@RebekahCastorTV) April 13, 2020
The cookout was in violation of Gov. Ron DeSantis' stay-at-home order, issued to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Police cited this order from their cars as they drove by, ordering the party to disperse. Other police went out among the crowd wearing personal protective equipment, ordering people to separate.
There were reportedly no arrests or citations at the party, though Police Chief Tommi Lyter was among those that went out among the crowd. Plenty of children were in attendance. Police said the situation was resolved by 7 p.m.
"The officers were really just educating those at the party about the importance of social distancing," said a spokesman for the Pensacola Police Department, Mike Wood. "Many of those in attendance were young and we were trying to explain to them that while they may think they're not at high risk for the virus, they can bring it home to their older family members."
This was just one case of Americans chaffing against stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures in recent weeks. However, since then, Florida has led the charge in dropping some of these restrictions, and many experts say it is too soon.
Gov. DeSantis allowed some public beaches in Florida to reopen on Friday. The beaches still have limited hours, and are only authorized for jogging, fishing and other physical exercise. Visitors are expected to stay at least six feet apart and wear masks if possible, and stationary activities like sunbathing are prohibited. Photos and videos from the scene have shown many people violating these regulations.
Experts say that social distancing is still required for some time in order slow the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., and prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed with patients. For the latest advisories and information on the pandemic, visit the CDC's website.