Outrage on social media does not lead to arrests in Florida vegan protest cases

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Protesters entered a Chick-fil-A in Pinellas Park wearing chicken and cow costumes that were spattered in blood on Tuesday.

One protester held a knife that may have been real, or it may have been a Halloween prop.

Several people videotaped the incident as one person continued to scream over and over, “you’re assaulting me, you’re assaulting me.”

On social media, people are outraged.

The protest happened in front of small children, and parents who were at the restaurant at the time were clearly shaken by the incident.

However, despite the anger and outrage, no one filed a police report or criminal complaint and as a result, police have made no arrests.

“We had no violation of criminal law. We have to work within the confines of that and we had no subjects come forward and say they were the victim of a crime and that’s what we have to work off of,” said Sergeant Michael Lynch with the Pinellas Park Police department.

In an incident a short time later, the same group of protesters confronted fisherman Bob Hope and his family.

They told Hope he was hurting a fish he had just caught.

“It got to the point where they said, ‘we’re going to take your fish, we’re going to throw it back in the water,’” said Hope.

Hope said he didn’t want to get into a physical altercation with the group because he had his one-year-old child with him.

He called police, but when officers arrived, the incident was over and no charges were filed.

“It’s just unfortunate that the police chose to not defend the rights of a family and a citizen just enjoying their freedom and doing what we have every right to do,” said Hope.

St. Petersburg police have seen the video and are well aware of the postings about the incident on social media.

“We’re getting a really strong reaction,” said Yolanda Fernandez with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Fernandez maintains the officer could not legally make an arrest in the case, because they didn’t witness the incident.

“With this particular offense, an officer can’t charge anyone just because it’s on video,” said Fernandez.

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