BROWARD (CBSMiami) – There was a lot of tension Sunday between law enforcement and demonstrators. But in the midst of all that, there were also saw signs of hope.

Hand in hand, a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy and a protester prayed after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

It’s a post retweeted more than 300 times.

Over the phone, Sheriff Gregory Tony says he also prayed with people who want change.

“I personally went out and had a prayer with that group. Spoke to them about, you know, a unified effort to change police brutality, and take a knee with them,” he said. “So I was happy it occurred and I think we need to see more of it.”

The sheriff believes people should not turn a blind eye to protesters, like the groups of people who marched for solutions over the weekend.

“The idea of protests for these groups is not to divide the community but to bring awareness to an issue that continues to plague America and specifically targets are hurt the black community,” he said.

The sheriff says he hears them clearly.

Since he was appointed, he says for the first time BSO has the most diverse command staff. He has a Use of Force Review Board to hold deputies accountable. And there is a new professional standards committee made up of homeowners and judges.

“All of which 100% support and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’ve been putting forth so much effort on police brutality and cutting down on the physical activities of officers beating on people and terminating deputies when needed,” he said.

On Monday, the sheriff says two deputies, one black and the other white, were told to give up their guns, keys and badges for violating the department’s social media policy. They’ve been placed on restrictive administrative duty during an internal investigation.

The sheriff also mentioned two previous cases where deputies were fired. One involves a teen whose head was slammed on the ground. Another was after a man in handcuffs was beaten.

“I have feared that if we did not correct these things now, we would have a Minneapolis here on the streets of Broward County and I refused for that type of situation to take place,” Tony said.

While the sheriff welcomes protesters and their messages, he says there’s still a curfew in place just in case there are people around who aren’t fighting for positive change.

Ty Russell

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