Sun, 12 Jul 2020

Curfews Expire as California Assesses Damage From Unrest

Voice of America
02 Jun 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

LOS ANGELES - Curfews expired early Monday as California cities assessed widespread damage following a weekend of violence, vandalism and arson amid passionate protests against the death of a handcuffed black man in Minneapolis police custody.

National Guard soldiers deployed in Los Angeles and other cities to back up police forces who faced an uncertain day after Sunday's turmoil quieted down overnight.

Thieves smashed their way in more than 20 cities into stores - carrying away armloads of sneakers, clothes and electronics.

Armed members of the Guard protected Los Angeles City Hall on Sunday after upheaval in the nation's second-largest city and then rolled into suburban Santa Monica and Long Beach as throngs savaged businesses there.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti denounced the mayhem as having nothing to do with protests by those outraged by the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man seen in a video pleading for air as a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck.

"Criminals are wrong to think that they can hijack this message, undermine this movement and divide us - they will not," Garcetti said.

Hundreds of people have been arrested during the disturbances that forced cities and counties to place millions of people under overnight curfews. In Los Angeles County, the tactic appeared to help quell trouble.

Neighboring San Bernardino County said it would imposed a curfew Monday evening after there was vandalism and thefts at businesses a day earlier.

In Sacramento, where no curfew was imposed, Sunday night brought more violence and destruction at businesses in the midtown area and near the Capitol after a largely peaceful daytime protest. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at those who ignored orders to leave.

Other violence statewide included an arm wound suffered by a gunshot victim in Walnut Creek.

And across the state, devastated shop owners cleaned up.

In Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco, where thieves stormed malls late Saturday, Keyla Calderon swept up glass outside the medical scrubs shop Uniform Advantage.

Calderon's store had just reopened after being shuttered for six weeks under California's orders to stem spread of the coronavirus. She turned on the news to see scenes of people breaking into her shop and others.

"To hear the alarm ring and see people destroy the store before my eyes, it was heartbreaking," Calderon said.

In nearby Oakland, about 60 people were arrested, including three detained on suspicion of opening fire on police department headquarters early Monday. No officers were injured, authorities said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed 1,000 members of the Guard to assist the 20,000 officers of the Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments, Garcetti said.

Humvees lined up outside Los Angeles City Hall, and troops stood behind police on the steps of the building as protesters gathered.

Unrest in Santa Monica happened not far from a peaceful demonstration near the city's famous pier as thieves targeted shops near the popular Third Street Promenade.

As protesters gathered in Long Beach, thieves swarmed nearby stores and carried away armloads of clothing. Some stopped to change into stolen items.

About 1,000 people marched through the streets of San Francisco, carrying signs and chanting "George Floyd," and "Black lives matter."

"We're here because George Floyd was murdered in cold blood," Aliasiah Allah said.

At least 80 people were arrested late Sunday for violating curfew and looting as police officers seized firearms and explosives, said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott.

The demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful but some "defiant individuals" refused to disperse and threw bottles at officers and started trash fires, Scott said.

In San Diego, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd they said pelted them with rocks and bottles.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said officers had acted appropriately, though he acknowledged some "individual failures."

Moore said he would look into an incident caught on video in which a police car struck a person at a downtown protest on Sunday.

A police statement said the officers were responding to a robbery report when they encountered numerous protesters and stopped. Protesters surrounded them, threw objects into the car and shattered its rear window and damaged a side mirror, it said.

"Officers attempted to drive away, when people ran out in front of the cruiser. One of them was struck but got up and ran away before they could be identified," the statement said. It added that firefighters responded but were unable to find anyone who was involved.

Five LAPD officers have been injured in clashes and two hospitalized, including one who required surgery after his skull was fractured by a brick, Moore said.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city's 8 p.m. curfew would be extended indefinitely.

Breed expressed sadness about the destruction and said she was not going to tolerate the violence.

"I was extremely upset because unfortunately with some of the vandals, they thought this was a game, they thought this was funny," Breed said.

Protests also roiled the east San Diego suburb of La Mesa, where two adjacent banks burned to the ground.

"I think people are hurting and they're angry and they're trying to be heard because there's no other way to get anyone's attention," Ally Kaiahua said of the property damage in La Mesa.

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