LONG BEACH (CNS) - A peaceful protest of the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by thousands of people in Long Beach was marred by widespread looting today in the downtown area and other commercial areas around the city, prompting the mayor to request National Guard troops to help restore peace.
Several thousand people took part in the protest that started at 3 p.m. at Long Beach Police Headquarters and they marched along Ocean Boulevard and back to downtown, according to police and media accounts.
Looters began their assault around 5 p.m., hitting several businesses in The Pike Outlets including T-Mobile and Luxury Perfume. They also stole from the Jean Machine in the City Place Shopping Center, Mark Schneider Fine Jewelry in the Promenade, a Ross store and several businesses along Long Beach
Boulevard including El Super and a CVS. They could be seen making multiple trips inside stores to carry out armfuls of merchandise which they loaded into awaiting vehicles, taking selfies and smiling for television cameras.
“Heartbreaking,'' was the way Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna described the turn of events. “We planned for a large group of protesters to express their anger in a positive way,'' he said. That meant bringing in hundreds of officers -- four to five times the usual Sunday staff -- who were quickly overwhelmed because once officers gained control of an area they could not give it up and looters moved on.
“We knew we were going to get agitators but we didn't expect this number,'' Luna said. Mutual aid arrived in the form of officers from departments around the area and sheriff's deputies. As of 9 p.m., the National Guard troops were on the way, officials said.
“We will bring peace back to Long Beach,'' Luna said. “I promise you that.'' To looters he said: “We're going to come after you and we're going to put you in jail.''
Luna expected the number of arrests to increase as the growing law enforcement presence enforced the countywide curfew.
Many of the looters are believed to have come to Long Beach from other areas.
Looters also attempted to hit stores in nearby Lakewood. An alert sent out by Lakewood city officials said: “Sheriffs made arrests quickly for commercial looting in Lakewood and are handling the issue. Please stay home,'' and “Lakewood's Sheriff personnel are fully deployed. Lakewood's primary and reserve Sky Knight helicopters are up and watching the city.''
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