National Guard troops were ordered into Los Angeles and a dusk-to-dawn curfew enacted as looting and rioting broke out Saturday in the Fairfax and Mid-Wilshire districts.
Peaceful demonstrations turned violent and unruly, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops after crowds poured into the Fairfax District, downtown and onto Beverly Boulevard, with many taking over the intersection of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue, shutting down traffic.
At the nearby intersection of Third and Edinburgh Avenue, several police cars were vandalized and rubber bullets were fired to try to control the crowd.
Police tried to hold the line against further advancement, and could be seen engaging in scuffles with some protesters, including some who used their clubs.
The police later brought in large, military-style vehicles to clear the streets, while some sign-carrying protesters chanting “Eat the rich” surged onto Beverly Hills’ famed shopping destination, Rodeo Drive.
The windows at scores of stores were broken, with people moving in and clearing shelves of pricey merchandise
The Fairfax District gathering followed a noon demonstration at Pan Pacific Park, at 7600 Beverly Blvd. A handful of similar demonstrations were held in other parts of the city, including a 3 p.m. event in Boyle Heights.
At a hastily scheduled news conference to address what the city is doing to keep the public safe, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a curfew for the downtown area and initially said he would not ask for National Guard troops. Shortly afterward, he extended curfew, set for 8 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday, to the entire city and asked Newsom to send 500 members of the National Guard to help police.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva later said the number was closer to 1,000.
Other area cities followed Garcetti’s lead, including Culver City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Long Beach, which all implemented similar curfews.
Looting was rampant downtown, in the Fairfax District and Beverly Hills with targets including a high-end consignment store on Fairfax Avenue, an eyeglass store on Melrose Avenue, a Target store in the Beverly Grove shopping center and a Walgreens store at Fourth and Hill streets.
Later in the evening looters cleaned out an Apple store on Melrose Avenue and reportedly took merchandise from a MedMen cannabis dispensary in West Hollywood.
The mayor joined many other city officials Saturday in sympathizing with the demonstrators expressing frustration about repeated acts of police brutality targeting black men while also appealing for calm. “With liberty comes responsibility to be able to peacefully protest,” Garcetti said.
“For that one or two percent of the protesters who think that (violence) is the way to make a statement, do not do a disservice to the memory of George Floyd (and) the folks who have died at the hands of the brutality that we all stand against,” Garcetti said.
Rev. Najuma Smith Pollard, program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement added, “It is the right thing to stand up and speak out. We don’t need more mayhem. It doesn’t work.”
Earlier Saturday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that all restrictions had been lifted in the downtown area, as he also appealed for calm.
“While more protests are slated for various locations throughout the city today, we remain hopeful those demonstrations will be peaceful,” Moore said in a series of tweets sent shortly before noon Saturday.
“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 of Angelenos,” he said, adding that the LAPD would deploy additional resources to maintain order.
The LAPD reported 4,400 calls to 911 since Saturday’s protests began, according to ABC7.
Arrest numbers for Saturday will not be available until later Sunday, police officials said. But Moore said 533 people were arrested overnight Friday on charges including burglary, looting, probation violations, battery on a police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 have been released.
“Six Los Angeles Police Officers were injured during the protests on Friday night and early Saturday morning,” Moore tweeted. “They sustained non- life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.”
Saturday’s events began at noon, as Black Lives Matter Los Angeles held a rally at Pan Pacific Park. Another protest, hosted by the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, happened at 1 p.m. outside LAPD’s Southeast Station at 145 W 108th St. and included a march to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office at 1310 W. Imperial Highway.
At 3 p.m., a demonstration was scheduled at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, 1831 E. First St. to demand the release of all prisoners, as well as an end to police terror and “crimes against Latinos and blacks.”
People took to the streets Friday for the third consecutive night to demand justice for Floyd, who died on Memorial Day after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the 46-year-old man’s neck for more than eight minutes while three other officers looked on.
Video footage of the arrest, in which Floyd is heard saying “I can’t breathe,” spread widely online, and all four officers were fired.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday.
The LAPD was placed on tactical alert at 2:20 p.m. Friday as a precaution ahead of the protests, according to Officer Tony Im.
After nightfall Friday, several businesses downtown were looted, including the Target store at Seventh and Figueroa streets, a Rite Aid store at Seventh and Hope streets, along with the Sixth Street Market and the Starbucks on Sixth Street between Broadway and Main Street and jewelry stores near Sixth Street and Broadway.
A trash can was set on fire near Olympic Boulevard and Hill Street and quickly extinguished by officers. Three fires were set near the intersection of Hill and Seventh streets, one in the intersection, another south of the intersection on Hill Street and a third on a sidewalk near a building.
As Los Angeles firefighters arrived to extinguish the flames, someone in the crowd grabbed a department fire hose and tossed it into the fire burning in the intersection.
At least one LAPD cruiser was tagged with graffiti.
After four nights of disturbances, Newsom issued the emergency declaration for all of Los Angeles County.
In his accompanying statement, Newsom warned outsiders who might come to California to exploit its “pain to sow chaos and destruction,” and urged a renewed focus on the systemic issues at the core of the unrest.
Our state and nation must build from this moment united and more resolved than ever to address racism and its root causes.
Updated at 7:55 a.m., Sunday, May 31, 2020