Lowndes Sheriff defends against viral video of physical altercation

Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 8:01 PM EDT
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By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 4, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk is defending his physical interaction with a group of protesters Wednesday

The videos show Sheriff Paulk confronting a man with a sign displaying profanity, confiscating the sign and grabbing a female protester who tries to snatch it back.

The videos have sparked strong feelings throughout the community.

Sheriff Paulk spent much of the day at the protest, showing his support. But when he left for lunch, a sign with the "F word" and Trump spelled out surfaced in the crowd.

"I was made aware of it by the public," he said. "I got several calls of 'We don't want to look at this'. I went back up there. I approached the young man who had the sign in his hand."

Sheriff Paulk says the man eventually surrendered his sign. But while speaking to him, a woman is seen attempting to retrieve the sign just before Paulk grabs her.

Cheyenne Padgett, a Valdosta resident, was out protesting on Wednesday and has been out doing so everyday since Monday.

"I don't want the incident to discredit what we have built so far because right now, it's the community coming together and unifying to make a difference," Padgett said.

Sheriff Paulk cites a Georgia law stating vulgar language is a misdemeanor crime in the presence of anyone under the age of 14 and says any minor could easily be passing by.

Therefore, if any signs displaying profanity are displayed again, Sheriff Paulk says he won't be as forgiving and will arrest. No one was arrested during the incident on Wednesday.

He adds while he supports the protesting, he wants people to abide by the law.

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