Seven people were arrested and several businesses were vandalized, with one attempt at looting, during Monday’s anti-police protest that drew nearly 6,000 people to downtown Riverside, authorities said Tuesday.
The demonstration, which got underway shortly before 4 p.m. Monday at the Main Library, at the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street, culminated in a massing of activists at the intersection of Orange and 10th Street, between the Robert Presley Detention Center and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, about an hour later.
The protesters were met by a phalanx of riot gear-clad deputies and Riverside police officers, who lined 10th and prevented the marchers from going farther.
According to Riverside police spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback, after the curfew hour of 6 p.m. passed, law enforcement officers began directing the protesters to vacate the area, but some refused.
Five adults and two teenagers were taken into custody for failure to obey a lawful dispersal order, Railsback told City News Service. The teens were released to their parents, and the adults posted bond or were released on their own recognizance later in the night. None were identified.
“As the protest was ending, the groups of those intent on causing disruption, destruction and violence began to single themselves from the peaceful attendees, and it was obvious they were only there to cause problems,” the police spokesman said. “They eventually left the area but attempted to cause damage and loot at other areas as they left our city. A caravan of vehicles with these people was reportedly seen getting on the freeway and leaving our city limits.”
Railsback said a CVS Pharmacy on Market Street was briefly raided by the suspects, resulting in a theft before patrol officers arrived a couple of minutes later and sent the bandits fleeing in different directions.
According to the lawman, several businesses between Tenth and Mission Inn were targeted by graffiti vandals, and there were a few broken windows.
A dumpster fire was reported near the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, but Riverside firefighters doused the flames within a few minutes.
No injuries were reported.
Like similar demonstrations that burgeoned in cities across the nation, the one in Riverside was spurred by the Memorial Day death of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and face-down on the street.
The four officers who handled the arrest were all fired. Derek Chauvin, the officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The Riverside protest was replete with derogatory outcries, with some participants repeatedly shouting “(expletive) the police,” but at no time in the first two-and-a-half hours of the gathering did there appear to be acts of violence, as has been witnessed in Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City and other locations.
As a precaution, the windows on most of the businesses in the immediate vicinity of the protest zone were boarded up.
A counter-demonstration of sorts took place overhead, where a single-engine airplane towing a banner circled the protesters in three-minute intervals. The banner read: “We Love The Police. USA Thanks You.” A red heart symbol was at the tail-end of the message.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said there were no plans for another countywide curfew Tuesday night, and the city of Riverside also had no plans to call for one.
The city of Moreno Valley ordered a curfew from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, citing public safety concerns. No similar plans had been announced via the web portals of any other municipalities in western Riverside County as of late afternoon.
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