Providence, Rhode Island is the latest city to see protests turn violent, as demonstrators burned a police cruiser and looted a mall on Monday night. According to a report by local CBS News affiliate WBZ4, about 300 people showed up at the Providence Place Mall at around 11:30 p.m. ET on Monday for a protest against the killing of George Floyd and police violence. However, things turned to property destruction quickly.
The demonstrators first set a police SUV on fire in the mall's parking lot. A photo from the scene shows the car melted to the pavement from where it might have damaged buildings or other property. Meanwhile, people began shattering windows to get into the mall, where they looted between 12-18 businesses before police could stop them, they said. Police believed between 75 and 100 people were involved in the looting.
I'm not from this city, but I love this city. This morning, I'm sad for it.
The chaos and violence overnight was devastating. People injured, properties destroyed, businesses looted. An eye-opening experience in my reporting career.June 2, 2020
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza told reporters that 65 people were arrested on Monday and that 35 of them were local Providence residents. Five of them were from Massachusetts, and the rest were from other nearby towns in Rhode Island.
Elorza suggested that the escalation of the protest had been planned from the beginning by certain factions among the demonstrators. He said that the mall was advised to close early at 7 p.m. ET that night as police picked up "chatter" on social media.
"Then, there were some posts on social media and pretty rapidly, people appeared from different directions and different parts of the city and they congregated over by the mall. Given the way it played out, it’s hard to believe it was not organized," he said.
"Last night was a tough night for our city. I know there's a lot of anger, a lot of anger in our community, our state, through the entire country. But one thing is clear is that violence is not the answer. Violence is never the answer," Elorza went on. "What we saw last night, these are folks that gathered purposely, late, late, late at night. They weren’t coming together to peacefully protest, they were out to cause trouble."
Both the Providence Police Department and the Rhode Island State troopers responded to the scene. Five local officers and five state troopers were reportedly hurt in the riot, and five police cars in total were damaged. There is no word on how many demonstrators were hurt or how many remain in custody. Elorza told reporters he intends to talk to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo about whether a curfew is necessary for the city.