A citywide curfew was issued for the second straight day Sunday in Los Angeles, as National Guard troops arrived to help restore order after a weekend of sometimes violent protests and looting stemming from the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The curfew goes into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday and lasts until 5:30 a.m. Monday. Exceptions are made for first responders, people going to and from work, and anyone seeking or giving emergency care. All others risk arrest if they are on the streets during the curfew.
The Los Angeles Police Department said 398 arrests were made Saturday related to the protests. The potential charges include burglary, looting, vandalism, failure to disperse, being a felon in possession of a gun, and numerous curfew violations.
Police Chief Michel Moore said five LAPD officers were injured and two were hospitalized, including one officer who suffered a fractured skull.
At least two dozen National Guard 129th Rescue Wing HC-130J vehicles passed in front of Los Angeles City Hall shortly before 5 a.m. and are expected to be part of the city’s response to any further unrest that develops as demonstrations continue. They used the downtown Convention Center as a staging area.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he hopes the deployment will be a “very short visit,” but there is no fixed timeline.
Roughly 1,000 guard personnel were deployed after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.
Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger announced Sunday that she has proclaimed a state of emergency as well, which will facilitate interagency response coordination and mutual aid, accelerate the procurement of vital supplies, and enable future state and federal reimbursement of costs incurred by the county.
“This emergency comes as we are in the midst of battling another emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxes our resources, but not our resolve,” Barger said. “We will do everything in our power to keep our communities safe and protect lives and property. I continue to call on our residents to maintain calm and seek solutions productively, not destructively.”
A handful of candlelight vigils and other actions in memory of Floyd were planned Sunday, including a 3 p.m. protest at Long Beach Police Headquarters and vigils in Compton at 6:30 p.m and Pasadena at 7 p.m.
A large protest also developed in Santa Monica early Sunday afternoon, but no violence or looting were reported.
Garcetti said a small number of COVID-19 testing sites may not open Monday because workers do not feel safe reporting to those locations, but the city’s largest site at Dodger Stadium will remain open.
He also appealed for demonstrators to remember that the coronavirus pandemic still presents a serious threat.
“The folks that are out there on these streets should not be a victim of this virus because we’re not practicing social distancing,” he said.
Garcetti and Moore praised the restraint of the city’s police force, although Moore acknowledged he saw a few instances of improper techniques as police tried to control the sometimes unruly crowds. Moore said he has been handing out his business card to demonstrators who complained about police conduct over the weekend. The chief said the department will take complaints from anyone who has an accusation of excessive force or unlawful arrests by the LAPD.
Peaceful demonstrations in the Fairfax District Saturday became unruly when several hundred demonstrators converged, with some 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 control the crowd.
Police tried to hold the line against further advancement, and could be seen engaging in scuffles with some protesters, and some officers used their clubs. They later brought in large, military-style vehicles to clear the streets, while some sign-carrying protesters chanting “Eat the rich” moved on to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills’ famed shopping destination.
The windows at scores of stores were broken, with people rushing in and clearing shelves of pricey merchandise
The Fairfax District gathering followed a noon Black Lives Matter rally at Pan Pacific Park, at 7600 Beverly Blvd. A handful of similar demonstrations were also held Saturday in other parts of the city.
Looting was rampant Saturday at several downtown stores, 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 in the Beverly Grove shopping center and a Walgreens 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. Images of similar damage in the Larchmont area was circulated on social media.
The mayor joined many other city officials in sympathizing with 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.”
Demonstrations have been held throughout the nation, and in several other parts of the world, since video of Floyd 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.
On Friday night and Saturday morning, 533 people were arrested in downtown Los Angeles on charges including burglary, looting, probation violations, battery on a police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 were 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.”
In a statement accompanying his emergency declaration statement, Newsom warned against 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 disturbances.
“Our state and nation must build from this moment united and more resolved than ever to address racism and its root causes,” he said.
Nationwide, at least 5,000 National Guard soldiers and air personnel have been activated in 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, in response to civil disturbances tied to Floyd-related protests.
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