LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Police were planning for another challenging day of demonstrations today after multiple businesses were looted and many protesters arrested Friday night in downtown Los Angeles, amid demonstrations against police brutality following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday.
An official with the Los Angeles Police Department told City News Service the LAPD has a plan in place for keeping the peace during Saturday's events, but was not releasing further details.
Saturday's events are scheduled to begin at noon, with a demonstration calling for justice for Floyd and immediate safe release of prisoners in the Men's Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Demonstrators are scheduled to meet on the corner of Alhambra Avenue and Vignes Street, then caravan to the jail facilities and end with a rally at LAPD headquarters. That event is organized by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
Also at noon, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles will hold a rally at Pan Pacific Park, 7600 Beverly Blvd., to call for an end to police brutality against unarmed black Americans and for justice in the death of Floyd and for “the 601 people murdered by police in L.A. County.”
Another protest, hosted by the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, is set for 1 p.m. outside LAPD's Southeast Station, 145 W 108th St. and will include a march to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office at 1310 W. Imperial Highway.
At 3 p.m., a demonstration is scheduled at Mariachi Plaza, 1831 E. First St. to demand the release of all prisoners, as well as an end to police terror and “crime against Latinos and blacks.”
Photo: Getty Images
People took to the streets Friday for the third consecutive night to demand justice for George Floyd, who died Monday after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the 46-year-old man's neck for several minutes while three other officers looked on.
Video footage of the arrest, in which Floyd is heard saying “I can't breathe,” spread widely online, and all four officers were fired. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday.
The LAPD was placed on tactical alert at 2:20 p.m. as a precaution ahead of the protests, according to Officer Tony Im. “While the vast majority of individuals in Los Angeles have expressed those views in a peaceful manner, we have witnessed an increasing level of violence and property damage committed by a small number of detractors,'' the LAPD said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
“The violence involved dangerous projectiles directed at our people as well as some property damage to businesses in the area. While isolated, if left unchallenged we face the potential of those actions expanding and hurting innocent individuals.” Moore added: “We stand with our communities and rebuke any instance of police brutality as well as acts of violence or property damage.''
The issuing of a tactical alert requires all on-duty personnel to remain on duty, Im said.
“We're going to have more people on-duty because staff is not going home... For example, all the day watch people stay on and the night watch people have started, so we have double the amount of staffing,” Im said.
The Target store at Seventh and Figueroa streets, a Rite Aid store at Seventh and Hope streets, along with the Sixth Street Market and the Starbucks on Sixth Street between Broadway and Main Street and jewelry stores near Sixth Street and Broadway were among the businesses looted just before midnight Friday.
At least one Los Angeles Police Department cruiser was tagged with graffiti. Police set up skirmish lines throughout the downtown area and, in at least one instance, fired non-lethal ammunition as they pushed a crowd out of the area, some in the crowd stopping to hide behind vehicles to throw objects at officers. Arrests were reported. A person answering the phone at the Metropolitan Detention Center could not give an exact number of arrests, but stated it was a “busload.”
The looting came about four hours after several people were detained shortly before 7 p.m. near Fifth and Olive streets for allegedly throwing objects at officers and damaging police cars that were parked near the intersection, according to broadcast reports from the scene. A protestor was seen on video spraying a fire extinguisher at officers, then running through the crowd spraying fire retardant.
“I'm sorry that L.A. failed tonight,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told reporters Friday night. “Our ability to have a demonstration, express our views, our anger, our disgust unfortunately turned into an unruly situation with officers being injured, property damage occurring.”
An officer was put in a chokehold and kicked by some protesters in the Pershing Square area, according to broadcast reports from the scene. It was not clear if this was the same officer who was sent to a hospital with injuries from a confrontation with demonstrators. At least two other officers were injured, including one who was struck in the face by a flying object, according to KNBC4. Shortly before 7:30 p.m., a group of about 100 blocked traffic on the Harbor (110) Freeway, near the James M. Wood Boulevard exit. They were cleared from the freeway, but re-entered near Fifth Street at 8:20 p.m.
Demonstrators initially gathered at 5 p.m. outside City Hall and marched south on Spring Street, then north on Figueroa Street. The protest was declared an unlawful assembly shortly before 9:30 p.m. due to “repeated acts of violence and property damage,” according to the LAPD. People were advised to get off the streets and businesses were told to close in the downtown area from the Santa Monica (10) to the Santa Ana (101) freeways and the Harbor (110) Freeway to Alameda Street. A helicopter announced that those left protesting could be arrested.
Mayor Eric Garcetti sent a message on Twitter at 10 p.m. Friday calling for calm.
“I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love,'' Garcetti said. “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.”