Los Angeles police arrested over 500 people during protests of police brutality, inspired by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Friday night. There were reports of looting and vandalism in downtown Los Angeles and at least two police vehicles were set on fire, reports the Los Angeles Times. At least four officers were hurt and several businesses were vandalized and looted. Officials could not give an exact number of damaged stores.
This was one of the largest mass arrests by the Los Angeles Police Department in years, notes the Times. Officers spent the late Friday hours into Saturday morning cleaning the debris. "I think when we hit daylight we will see the destruction. We lost at least two police vehicles to fire," LAPD Assistant Chief Robert Acros told the Times. Police reported seeing several "opportunists" commit burglaries that were not connected to the organized protest, which began at City Hall and continued to LAPD headquarters.
The situation turned violent around midnight when jewelry stores and a CVS drugstore were broken into and looted. A Whole Foods store was also damaged. One person was seen throwing a scooter into a store's window. Fireworks were also set off in the street, and people ran through smoke to break into shops. Several people spray-painted profanity and anti-police messages on buildings. Some also spray-painted "I can't breathe," the last words Floyd spoke while a police officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck.
While the damage in Los Angeles was far less than what Minneapolis saw, officials and business owners were troubled by the scene that unfolded Friday night. LAPD Chief Michel Moore told KABC it was an "unlawful assembly" as he stood near the site of the violence. "It's dangerous for all the residents and others," Moore said. "So it's unfortunate. It's a dark day in our history, that we have to do this, but this is what's going to save lives and this is going to save property."
Police shot rubber bullets at protesters on Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles.May 30, 2020
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also called on residents to peacefully protest. "I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love," he wrote on Twitter. "We respect every Angeleno's right to protest, but violence and vandalism hurts all. Let's remember why we march, protect each other and bring a peaceful end to a painful night."
Floyd died in police custody on Monday. He was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store. Video shows that while he was in custody, officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground by putting his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes until Floyd was unconscious. Chauvin continued keeping his knee on Floyd's neck for almost three minutes after Floyd lost consciousness. On Friday, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He and three other officers were fired.