A countywide curfew was issued Sunday in Los Angeles from 6 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday, as new violence broke out in Santa Monica following what was ostensibly a demonstration against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
National Guard troops arrived earlier Sunday to help restore order after a weekend of sometimes violent protests and looting in the city. Some units appeared to be preparing to mobilize in the late afternoon, but as of 5 p.m., no guard units appeared to be deployed.
Exceptions to the curfew are made for first responders, people going to and from work, and anyone seeking or giving emergency care. All others are said to risk arrest if on the streets during the curfew.
Santa Monica officials imposed a curfew from 4 p.m. Sunday through 5:30 a.m. Monday. A few hundred people started marching down Ocean Boulevard around noon Sunday, many holding signs protesting the killing of Floyd. That march was peaceful, but a short time later looting was reported at several stores in the popular Santa Monica Place shopping center and on nearby Fourth Street, and news footage showed many people carrying merchandise and running out of stores that had been broken into.
The city’s police department urged the public to avoid the downtown area, and Los Angeles Police Department units were assisting Santa Monica police.
The Santa Monica (10) Freeway was shut down near its western edge around 2 p.m., backing up traffic to the San Diego (405) Freeway.
As the 4 p.m. curfew deadline passed, looting was still going on in and around the Third Street Promenade while police were trying to disperse a separate, peaceful group of demonstrators assembled nearby.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered at Pershing Square downtown, not far from where National Guard units were staging at the Convention Center. At least one person could be seen throwing a projectile at an LAPD cruiser, and LA Metro shut down train service at the Pershing Square station.
An LAPD cruiser was spotted by ABC7 cameras driving into a crowd of demonstrators, hitting two of them, then backing up and accelerating away from the scene as several protesters were seen throwing objects at the vehicle and others helped the two protesters back on their feet.
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.
A line of National Guard troops lined up to guard outside the steps of City Hall on the Spring Street side, according to media reports from the scene.
About 5 p.m., those guardsmen backed by a line of LAPD officers were confronted by thousands of demonstrators who marched through downtown L.A. to City Hall’s steps on Spring, Los Angeles Daily News reported. Many of the demonstrators went to their knees in front of the line of troops and police with their hands up, yelling “Don’t shoot.”
“I want justice for anybody who’s been hurt by police,” 27-year-old Blossom Baptist told the newspaper. “I want them to understand it’s not their right to kill us, they are supposed to protect us.”
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.
Garcetti and Police Chief Michel 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.
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.
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.