What began as a protest in Beverly Hills Saturday over the in-custody death of George Floyd led to looting of the Alexander McQueen clothing store on Rodeo Drive, attacks on three police vehicles and multiple incidents of vandalism.
Police used tear gas to break up the remaining 200-300 people gathered at Rodeo and Santa Monica Boulevard around 8 p.m., after the gathering was declared an illegal assembly.
More than 2,000 people came to Beverly Hills as part of a nationwide series of demonstrations, Keith Sterling, the city’s public information manager, told City News Service.
The sign-carrying demonstrators reached Beverly Hills’ famed three-block shopping street, Rodeo Drive, approximately 3:15-3:30 p.m., chanting “Eat the rich.” Signs carried by protesters included, “George Floyd did not deserve to be murdered,” “Justice for George Floyd” and “Black lives matter.”
Many protesters ignored social-distancing recommendations.
The city announced around 2 p.m. Rodeo was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Stores on Rodeo, like other nonessential stores throughout the state, have been closed since early March due to stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sterling described the vandalism as “mostly spray painting and several broken windows.”
“While we are still determining the extent of the damage, we are deeply saddened that vandalism occurred in our city today,” Mayor Les Friedman. “We will work to support our businesses moving forward in this already difficult time.”
The Alexander McQueen store was looted by masked individuals around 6:20 p.m. as what appeared to be dozens of people entered the store and escaped with stolen items.
There was also an attempt to loot the Gucci store.
Three Santa Monica Police Department vehicles were attacked between 6-7 p.m. at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo. Santa Monica police were assisting the Beverly Hills Police Department on a mutual aid request.
A few police officers suffered minor injuries, Friedman told NBC4, adding the Beverly Hills Police Department will also receive assistance from departments in the Inland Empire.
The incidents on Rodeo came hours after the street was trending on Twitter, encouraging people to come there to protest.
At 5:18 p.m., Friedman joined Los Angeles in announcing a curfew from 8 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday “to ensure the safety of citizens, visitors and law enforcement personnel.”
The curfew prohibits anyone from being upon streets, alleys, parks or any public place.
“I’m asking everyone to stay at home,” Friedman said. “Thousands of protesters marched through our city streets on Saturday to call attention the devastating circumstances surrounding the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
“While most of the protesters were peaceful and there were no injuries, there were multiple incidents of vandalism in the city. The safety of the Beverly Hills community remains our top priority at all times.”
The Beverly Hills Police Department has deployed extra staffing throughout the city and will be highly visible while enforcing the curfew, Friedman said.
Shortly before 4 p.m., automated telephone calls were made to Beverly Hills residents saying protesters are entering the city and urging residents to stay to home and motorists should avoid the area.
The Beverly Hills City Council held what it described as an “emergency meeting to discuss the current ongoing civil unrest within Los Angeles County” earlier Saturday.
Floyd died Monday 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 several 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.