Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked California Gov. Gavin Newsom to mobilize the National Guard to help Los Angeles deal with worsening looting, vandalism and violence on the streets.
A law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times the guard has been deployed and will be in on the streets of L.A. by midnight.
The move comes less than an hour after the mayor expanded a curfew, first set for downtown, to the entire city from 8 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Los Angeles Metro said it was also suspending all transit during the curfew period.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he is also seeking help from the National Guard. Los Angeles joins a growing number of cities across the country seeking more help to deal with violent protests sparked by the killing by police.
The decision came as the situation in the Fairfax District deteriorated, with shops, including Nordstrom and the Apple store, vandalized and looted. A small police kiosk in the mall was set on fire.
At 7 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Department declared an unlawful assembly in an area between Melrose Avenue and 6th Street and between La Brea Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard. “Residents should stay inside. Business should close. Those on the street are to leave the area immediately,” the LAPD said.
When a protester smashed the front window of the nearby Whole Foods with a hammer, some screamed, “Don’t do that! Please!” while others cheered.
The protesters began to clash among themselves; those urging peace created a barricade of shopping carts around the store’s entrance to protect it, but moments later, another group jumped the barricade and broke the store’s door down.
More than three dozen officers stormed the scene from the west side, firing rubber bullets and sending hundreds sprinting. “Stop running!” one man screamed, standing atop a car with a megaphone. “Stand as one! Say his name!”
Garcetti said he was keeping an eye on those events and had dispatched Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore to coordinate the response in person rather than join him in addressing the city.
Garcetti said the simultaneous protests and pandemic represent “the heaviest moment I’ve experienced as a resident of Los Angeles” since the riots in 1992.
“This was supposed to be a weekend of openings, and then we saw the closing of a life in Minneapolis,” Garcetti said, referring to the death there of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Instead of focusing on recovery, Los Angeles had been forced to close all of its coronavirus testing sites as a safety precaution, he said. Health officials were worried about “super spreaders” being among the protesters, potentially impeding the city’s progress in beating back the virus.
Garcetti said he welcomes peaceful protests to continue in future days, but “now is the time to go home. Come back (and) protest peacefully when there is peace.”
He said police will be empowered to make arrests if people violate the curfew.
Beverly Hills, Glendale, Pasadena and other cities also announced an 8 p.m. curfew, and the city of West Hollywood said it would likely follow suit.
“I am asking everyone to stay home,” Beverly Hills Mayor Les Friedman said.
The decisions come on another day of vandalism on the streets of Los Angeles.
As Garcetti spoke, police and protesters were in a tense standoff near The Grove shopping center, with police shooting rubber bullets and striking demonstrators with batons while several police cars were set on fire and other vehicles vandalized. Protesters also took over a Metro bus and climbed on its roof to videotape police.
Hundreds of protesters were marching to decry Floyd’s death when the standoff occurred at West 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue. Many in the group held their hands up, silently facing the officers. Loud bangs could be heard, prompting some in the crowd to run down 3rd Street and into nearby alleys. Two protesters said they witnessed officers shooting what looked to be rubber bullets and canisters.
The large crowd first gathered at Pan Pacific Park off Beverly Boulevard, where they chanted “defund police” and “prosecute killer cops” and waved signs at a rally organized by Black Lives Matter and social justice group BLD PWR. The rally’s speakers called for fewer public dollars for police departments and for schools and prisons to be overhauled.
“We’re living in the middle of an uprising,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told the group. “Let’s be clear: We are in an uprising for black life.”
Marsha Steinberg, 76, who described herself as a longtime activist, was among those who came out for the rally. “I was here for Rodney (King),” said Steinberg, who lives in the neighborhood. “Nothing has changed.”
“People have not had an outlet for justice,” Steinberg said, adding that new district attorneys need to be elected and prosecute cops accused of misconduct.
Isabel Alvardo waved a sign reading “Latinos for Black Lives Matter.” Alvardo, 21, lives in Santa Clarita and drove to the L.A. rally because she is “sick and tired of waking up every morning” to news about police killings. “I can’t compare myself to what they’re going through,” she said, of being black. “But I’m here to support them.”
By 2 p.m., thousands of marchers made their way from Pan Pacific Park and began marching west down 3rd Street toward Beverly Hills.
Police helicopters whirred overhead, while people standing on the sidewalks cheered on the marchers. Some marchers chanted, “No justice, no peace!” Early on, the crowd was peaceful, and there were no acts of violence or vandalism. Some bystanders even offered bottles of water to the marchers, and motorists honked their support.
But then the crowd and police engaged in a standoff, and matters quickly spiraled out of control.
By 4:30 p.m., the crowd appeared to be dispersing. Some protesters could be seen heading away from the mass of people gathered at Fairfax Avenue and 3rd Street.
With the crowd thinning, it was easier to spot the destruction of property in this popular commercial neighborhood.
About a dozen destroyed or defaced LAPD cruisers stood parked on 3rd Street, yards from where a loud crowd of protesters faced a row of police. The smell of charred rubber wafted through the area. The cruisers’ windows were smashed, mirrors ripped out and the vehicles’ bodies scrawled with writing: “F—pigs” and “Kill cops.”
Protesters spray-painted “Cops and Klan go hand and hand” along the side of a Citibank at Fairfax. Across the street, “Eat the Rich” was scrawled on the Writers Guild of America building.
People climbed up on the roof of the Farmers Market’s Starbucks, while nearby protesters held signs that read, “Abolish Cops.” The Grove appeared to be untouched, and some people walked through the outdoor mall as they headed away from the crowd.
A woman who gave her name as Tof came upon the protest after doing some shopping in the neighborhood. Looking down the street, she said peaceful protests hadn’t worked in the past. “There’s no wrong way to protest,” she said. “We would never do this if they weren’t killing us.”
With the afternoon’s destruction, she hopes “they will listen.”
Around 6 p.m., police arrested about 20 protesters who were then loaded onto a sheriff’s bus. Dozens of protesters — many dressed in black and wearing masks — posed for photographs, each with a fist in the air, while standing atop a burned and graffitied car by Edinburgh Avenue and Beverly Boulevard.
One demonstrator walked by carrying a sign that said, “Who do you call when a murderer wears a badge?” A helicopter circled overhead while police sirens wailed nearby.
About 6:15 p.m., a crowd suddenly dispersed as police shot rubber bullets at protesters near intersection of Beverly Boulevard and Hayworth Avenue. The protesters returned a few minutes later and stood in front of a barricade of police officers. Many held their hands in the air. “George Floyd!” they chanted.
A 24-year-old protester who came from Northridge watched from a few feet away.
“This is how they’re trying to calm us down?” he said. “We’re just trying to prove a point.”
Shortly afterward, officers declared an unlawful assembly and the crowd scattered again. Glass littered the sidewalk from a broken storefront window.
At The Grove nearby, looters broke into the Nordstrom’s department store and the Apple Store and ran off with merchandise. Sheriff’s deputies, some armed with semi-automatic weapons, arrived to assist police on 3rd Street. An officer in a police helicopter overhead urged the crowd of several hundred protesters to disperse.
Speaking to a reporter at The Grove on Saturday evening, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said he was troubled by how things had gotten out of control. He said he understood people’s anger and frustration but that the city needed to pull together.
“This is not the solution,” he said, standing next to the Nordstrom store that was looted. “We haven’t given up on L.A., and L.A. shouldn’t give up on itself. We can pull around this … .Policing doesn’t fix these kind of societal problems. I need all of L.A. to step up right now and be part of the solution.”
In Silver Lake, some protesters made it onto the 101 Freeway before officers escorted them off. Traffic on the freeway was snarled.
A smaller group of sign-carrying protesters gathered in front of police headquarters downtown, where a larger number of LAPD officers stood by, behind metal barricades.
“We came to let our voices be heard,” said Monica Lopez of Alhambra. “Police brutality is not OK.”
Over her head she held a sign with the message: “Dear Good Cops. You Have a Choice to Correct Your Partners.”
Passing motorists greeted her silent vigil with loud honks.
Lopez brought her 12-year-old daughter Jazlyn, who said she was protesting for the first time. She was waving a white sign that read, “Don’t Kill My Dad, I Need Him.”
“This is the world she lives in, sadly,” Lopez said. “But she has a voice.”
The demonstrations came after Los Angeles police arrested more than 500 people after protests against police brutality led to a night and morning of vandalism and looting on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
The LAPD spent much of Friday night and Saturday morning trying to clear the streets as people smashed windows, stole items from stores, clashed with police and set items, including at least two LAPD vehicles, on fire.
A total of 533 people were arrested on suspicion of charges that included burglary, looting, violation of probation, battery on a police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse, police said. All but 18 of those arrested were released on their own recognizance by Saturday afternoon.
Authorities said they had to make so many arrests because those on the street refused repeated orders to leave, including an unlawful-assembly order for all of downtown, issued at 9:30 p.m. Friday.
Six LAPD officers were hurt, some after being hit by debris. Their injuries were not life-threatening, police said. Numerous stores were vandalized and looted, but officials could not give an immediate count.
It marks one of the largest mass arrests by the LAPD in several years. In 2011, police arrested about 300 people when officers cleared out the Occupy L.A. camp at City Hall.
At one point early Saturday, officers opened fire after a man drove through an intersection where they were holding skirmish lines, police said.
The suspect, Richard Dodson, 49, suffered a minor injury and was charged with attempted murder, according to investigators.
Dodson sped through a police line at 6th Street and Broadway just before 2 a.m., narrowly missing officers standing at the intersection and prompting one to fire a nonlethal round at Dodson’s vehicle, police said.
Dodson then drove through a second skirmish line, and another officer fired rounds from his service weapon, according to investigators. Dodson continued driving down the street until his car was blocked in by other traffic and he was arrested, police said.
“I think when we hit daylight we will see the destruction. We lost at least two police vehicles to fire,” said LAPD Assistant Chief Robert Arcos.
Arcos said Saturday that teams were continuing to conduct site surveys to assess the damage.
The protesters demonstrating against Floyd’s killing are part of a movement that has raged across the country in recent days, turning destructive in various cities. The 46-year-old black man died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck while detaining him on suspicion of trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store.
In Oakland, one Federal Protective Service officer was fatally shot and another critically wounded outside a U.S. courthouse Friday night in an incident that federal authorities described as an act of domestic terrorism. The officers were keeping watch over a protest there, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the shooting was believed to be directly related to the unrest.
Earlier in the night, demonstrators blocked the 880 Freeway. Protesters smashed windows, sprayed buildings with anti-police graffiti and were met with chemical spray from police.
Six Oakland police officers were injured, as well as seven members of other agencies who responded to assist, Oakland police said Saturday. Twenty-two people were arrested, and 60 people suspected of looting were detained for further investigation, police said.
In Los Angeles, police said there were numerous burglaries by “opportunists” not necessarily connected with the original protest that began Friday afternoon with a march on City Hall and LAPD headquarters. For a while, the protesters blocked the 110 Freeway.
The situation had deteriorated around midnight as several jewelry stores were broken into and looted, along with a CVS pharmacy. A nearby Whole Foods Market was damaged. One person threw a scooter into a plate-glass window at one business, while another person offered a reporter a handful of jewelry on the street.
Fireworks were set off in the streets, the sparks hitting buildings. Smoke filled the air as some people broke into shops, making off with tennis shoes, clothing and electronic items such as television screens and speakers. Looted jewelry lay scattered on the sidewalk and in the road, with some people stopping to scoop some of it up and others distributing it to bystanders.
Buildings were spray-painted with profanity and anti-police statements as well as Floyd’s dying plea as he lay pinned to the ground by the police officer: “I can’t breathe.”
Merchants were slowly picking up the pieces Saturday afternoon.
Along the stretch of shops and tiny restaurants that line Broadway, the sound of pulsating banda music had been replaced by the whirring of power saws and the staccato of hammers pounding plywood as workers hurried to batten down damaged storefronts.
On a regular Saturday, the street would be bustling with customers, most chattering away in Spanish. But this was not a normal Saturday, with a pandemic and a riot conspiring to keep people away, leaving the streets — and stores — empty.
“It’s not because of this,” said a man guarding the door to the Fallas Paredes clothing store at 5th Street and Broadway, pulling on his face mask to show that he was referring to COVID-19. “It’s because of last night.”
Two women standing on either side nodded in agreement.
A couple of blocks to the west, two men sifted through a sacked Verizon store looking for a way to turn off the alarm, which had been blaring for more than 12 hours. They got a call from the owner at 8:30 p.m. to come board up the shop. When they arrived 75 minutes later, two of the looters were still inside. But none of the merchandise was.
“They were prepared,” the contractor said over the sound of the alarm. The looters had crowbars, he said, which they used unsuccessfully on the safe in the back. They also ripped fixtures off the walls.
A Japanese restaurant next door had one plate-glass panel smashed and its cabinets ransacked, but little was taken.
“It’s a restaurant,” said Pedro Perez. “What are you going to take?”
Perez, founder of PRC Restoration, was called out to board up a FedEx store. When he finished with that, he and his six-person crew began calling other owners of nearby businesses offering help. Some didn’t answer; others weren’t aware their properties had been hit.
Claudia Oliveira, a board member of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, showed up on Broadway with more than a dozen volunteers to sweep up broken glass and swab down walls.
A Brazilian immigrant, Oliveira grew up in Minneapolis. She said she understood the anger and the outrage that boiled over on Friday night. Floyd’s death at the hands of police in her hometown made her want to throw up, she said.
“I’m a black Latina undocumented immigrant,” she said. “It hurts me. I feel distraught and angry and frustrated. We saw an innocent man’s life taken from him.”
But she said she was frustrated that the damage in downtown would disproportionately hurt the working class and people of color. Most stores that were vandalized or looted are mom-and-pop stores, “immigrant-owned, run by black and brown folks,” Oliveira said.
The chain stores that were damaged, including Walgreens and Fallas Paredes, provide jobs, sell affordable goods and serve as lifelines for poor and homeless residents of downtown, Oliveira said.
A Starbucks at 6th and Spring streets saw some of the worst damage, with windows smashed and damage to the inside of the store. The cafe is on the first floor of the Hotel Hayward, a single resident occupancy hotel for low-income residents, Oliveira said.
“It’s not that I don’t understand the struggle or the anger,” she said. “I’m freaking furious. But who would want to hurt and steal from black- and brown-owned businesses?”
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The night before, Jessie Jenie had been near the Starbucks ordering ice cream, when crowds swarmed through the area, breaking every window in the coffee shop. One looter emerged with a single carton of milk, drinking it as he walked away, Jenie said.
“That’s when I was like, ‘Time to go home,’” said Jenie, who lives nearby.
Saturday morning she woke her boyfriend early. “She said, ‘We’re going to go clean up the neighborhood,’” Miko Garcia said. “And I listened to her.”
A couple of hundred yards from Pershing Square, two women swept up broken glass that covered the floor of their Subway dining room. They had shown up expecting to make sandwiches but now weren’t sure if they would open.
People carrying brooms and plywood outnumbered people walking dogs around the city center. Some of the dogs were outfitted with booties on all four paws to protect against the broken glass that dotted most sidewalks.
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The owner of Sally’s Snack Shop on 6th Street stood on a ladder on the sidewalk, using a hammer to try to bend his store’s metal security gate back into shape.
Crowds had dented it, he said, and had shattered the glass behind it. He was struggling to get inside to assess the damage.
The store has been in downtown for 65 years, and he’s owned it for 16, said the owner, who would give only his first name, Roger.
He said he understood why people were angry but that the destruction to his business could devastate him financially. His shop was just preparing to reopen after being closed for two months during the pandemic.
“Why me?” he said. “Why here?”
Inside Discount Electronics, owner Bill Nabati rubbed his face and fielded multiple calls from his security alarm company.
“They looted my store,” said Nabati, who has run the small storefront on Broadway since 1983. “After two months of the coronavirus, we don’t need this.”
Some electronics had been taken, windows broken and shelves smashed, Nabati said. He said the damage would take three weeks to repair, but he would need to conduct an inventory to assess how much had been stolen.
The last time he saw this kind of damage was in 1992, he said. As then, Nabati said, he was frustrated that the police had not done more to protect his small business.
“They knew it was going to happen, and they told me I needed to prepare,” Nabati said. “There’s only so much I can do. It’s out of my hands. If they want to come destroy my business, they can.”
“It’s a little bit devastating after everything with COVID,” said Nancy Nguyen, owner of Polished Nail Bar, as workmen boarded up the glass window at the front of her store.
Her salon wasn’t damaged so far, she said, and she was taking precautions to protect her business before more protests on Saturday night.
The nail salon is directly across the street from the looted Starbucks. Her hope, she said, was that Saturday night’s protests would stay peaceful.
“I love living downtown, and I’m a believer in downtown,” Nguyen said. “Protests are a part of our community. I just never expected violence or looting.”
Authorities said they, too, hoped the demonstrations slated for Saturday would be peaceful. The LAPD said it would deploy additional resources “to maintain order and ensure the safety and security of not only individuals exercising their 1st Amendment rights, but also the residents and businesses in our community.”
“I am asking for all of Los Angeles to come together and find the ability to peacefully express individual and collective grievances while also maintaining the safety of all Angelenos,” Chief Moore said in a statement.
Moore, Garcetti and many other Los Angeles officials had harshly condemned the killing of Floyd.
Cellphone video of Floyd’s arrest shows police officer Derek Chauvin driving his knee into the 46-year-old’s neck as Floyd pleads that he can’t breathe. After several minutes, Floyd appears to lose consciousness, and a bystander can be heard yelling that Floyd’s nose is bleeding. Even as paramedics arrive to check Floyd’s pulse, Chauvin’s knee remains positioned on the man’s neck.
Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers who were on the scene have been fired.
The unrest, while the worst in L.A. in some time, was far less destructive than in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed.
As the situation worsened Friday, Garcetti urged peaceful protest.
“We respect every Angeleno’s right to protest, but violence and vandalism hurts all,” he said on Twitter on Friday evening. “Let’s remember why we march, protect each other and bring a peaceful end to a painful night.”
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