More than 500 people were arrested Friday as protests in Downtown Los Angeles brought about by the death of George Floyd resulted in looting, vandalism and battery on police officers.
“The Los Angeles Police Department continues to assess the full extent of property damage from last night’s protest activities,” a spokesperson for the LAPD said in a statement Saturday. “Several police vehicles were vandalized, and numerous downtown businesses were damaged and looted. A total of 533 arrests were made last night related to the protests. The charges include burglary, looting, probation violation, battery on police officer, attempt murder and failure to disperse. “
The statement continues: “All but 18 of the arrestees have released on their own recognizance. Six Los Angeles police officers were injured during the protests on Friday night and early Saturday morning. They sustained non-life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds. As of this morning all restrictions in the downtown area have been lifted. While more protests are slated for various locations throughout the city today, we remain hopeful those demonstrations will be peaceful. The department will be deploying additional resources to maintain order and ensure the safety and security of not only individuals exercising their first amendment rights, but also the residents and businesses in our community.”
“I am asking for all of Los Angeles to come together and find the ability to peacefully express individual and collective grievances while also maintaining the safety of all of Angelenos,” Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Michel Moore, added in his own statement Saturday.
After hours of demonstrations that in at least one instance resulted in injuries, the LAPD said Friday night that the protests in Downtown Los Angeles were “an unlawful assembly.”
Authorities ordered businesses to close, residents to remain home, and demonstrators to disperse.
Citing what it called “repeated acts of violence & property damage,” LAPD said the zone affected by the order included the bulk of Downtown Los Angeles, bordered by the 10 freeway in the south, the 101 freeway in the north, the 110 in the west, and Alameda street in the east.
Throughout the night, local news footage showed several scenes of demonstrators breaking windows, throwing dockless scooters into buildings, and various other forms of vandalism, as LAPD deployed in large numbers near in central Downtown, close to city hall and LAPD headquarters.
We have declared an unlawful assembly throughout Downtown LA.
From the 10 Fwy to the 101 & the 110 Fwy to Alameda—This is being made following repeated acts of violence & property damage. Residents should stay inside—Business should close—Those on the street are to leave the area
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) May 30, 2020
The protests, which began around 5:30 p.m. local time, were largely peaceful during daylight hours, and as sunset approached, most protesters went home. Those who remained, according to local news reports, began engaging in acts of vandalism. Despite this, video footage showed peaceful demonstrators still outnumbered vandals by a considerable margin.
An early sign of escalation came shortly after 7:00 p.m. when protesters and police clashed in several sections of central downtown including the intersection of 5th and Olive. Elsewhere, protesters stopped traffic on the 101 freeway. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least two police officers were injured and several police cruisers damaged prior to the unlawful assembly declaration.
By 10:30 PM, most conflict between demonstrators and police appeared to be concentrated on Spring between 4th and 5th. In live footage, police established a line across Spring and appeared to be focused mainly on dispersing the crowd rather than making arrests though several people could be seen taken into custody and in some cases other demonstrators attempted to interrupt such arrests. At 10:45, police began deploying tear gas.
The protests in Los Angeles were among dozens across the country inspired by several people who were killed while in police custody in recent months, most notably Floyd.
Floyd was arrested by Minneapolis police Monday after an employee at a convenience store called authorities to say he suspected Floyd of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. During Floyd’s arrest, white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, an act that was caught on video by several bystanders. In the clips, Floyd can be heard asking officers to let him breathe but is not shown to be resisting. Paramedics were called to the scene, where they found Floyd to be unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead.
Chauvin has since been fired by the Minneapolis police, arrested and charged with third-degree murder in connection to Floyd’s death. The three other officers who were involved in the arrest have not been charged, though they were also fired.
Minneapolis has seen protests for five nights in a row, with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announcing Saturday that the state’s National Guard has been “fully” mobilized in response to the demonstrations, which he says have turned into “wanton destruction and chaos” and “made a mockery” of Floyd’s death.
Meanwhile on Friday, demonstrators in Atlanta vandalized CNN headquarters, and in Louisville, Kentucky police fired on news reporters during a live broadcast using guns that fired pepper balls.