SARASOTA - He served under multiple attorneys general in the 1960s and 70s. He enforced Civil Rights law and witnessed historic protests. Now he has a few things to say about the unrest now.

Former federal prosecutor and Parkinson Place founder Larry Hoffheimer knows that seeing is believing.

“Let’s face it. If those pictures weren’t shown on TV, we wouldn’t have these demonstrations," he says.

He knows about civil rights conflicts having served in the Justice Department under multiple Attorneys General as far back as Bobby Kennedy. He was a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Commission.

“The demonstrations around the country were rampant and I figured I could be in the middle of it.”

The response to George Floyd’s death isn’t surprising to Hoffheimer.

“Everybody saw it and it was gruesome," he says.

Circumstances are similar to the Birmingham Campaign, a civil rights movement in 1963. During the protests, there was no violence. But local authorities infamously hosed protesters and used attack dogs, under the direction of the city’s Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor.

“That got sympathy around the world and particularly in Washington," Hoffheimer says.

President Kennedy delivered a famous civil rights address that June, but President LBJ made civil rights a centerpiece of his presidency.

During a speech to Congress in 1965, President Johnson proclaimed that “[t]he real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this Nation.”

Hoffheimer says although President Kennedy supported civil rights legislation, President Lyndon Johnson had something that Kennedy didn't.

“He was the former majority leader in the Senate. Very powerful and would do anything to get his positions adopted.”

President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

One of the major laws Hoffheimer enforced during this period was Title 18 Section 242, a law against summary punishment – punishment without due process of law.

He says poor training is not the culprit behind abuses of power.

“The problem is recruitment.”

And he believes economic disparities need to be addressed, or "we’re still gonna have these problems.”

The same problems from last century which he hopes are solved in this one.