LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The National Guard arrived to Los Angeles overnight, hours after protests denouncing the deadly arrest of George Floyd turned into vandalism, fires, and looting.
As night fell, a largely peaceful protest in the Fairfax District organized by “Black Lives Matter” turned into chaos, as a small faction of protesters smashed car windows, set a police cruiser on fire, and hurled rocks, bricks and metal pipes at police. Officers fired rubber bullets into the crowds. A few used batons.
Area stores, such as the Nordstrom at the Grove, were looted, and a number of small fires were set, including a police kiosk in front of it. As all of this unfolded, news crews for CBS Los Angeles did witness some protesters urging others to remain lawful, over concerns that the message behind the protests — the end police brutality and change policing — was being lost.
The clashes through the night led Mayor Eric Garcetti to declare a citywide curfew that expired at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Other cities like Pasadena, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica similarly instituted curfews.
By morning, residents in the Fairfax District awoke to find burnt out vehicles, the result of fireworks being thrown into the cars, shattered glass, and widespread vandalism. Members of the National Guard carrying M-16s were patrolling the area as well.
The owner of a smoke and vape shop in the Fairfax District had his shop looted overnight. He lost everything.
“They kept coming in waves. So they come, they loot, they finished everything in my store, and then they leave. Another group of people come, they find nothing in the store, they started smashing everything in the store, glass and shelves. I don’t see any reason for that. I didn’t do anything to anyone.
“My business was closed for ten weeks because of the pandemic. This is my only business. This is my only life. And I was so happy that we were going to go back and this happens to me,” he said.
In downtown Los Angeles, the scene was very similar, with glass shattered, and businesses looted. Around 1,000 people were arrested in the city of Los Angeles, though exact numbers have not been released by the LAPD as of the time this article was published. Officers say a group of about 150 people arrived to the area in a caravan of cars, unrelated to the protest, and with the intention of looting and breaking into businesses.
“Everything is broken,” said Nati Abarito, a restaurant owner. “We work hard for this. For them to do that, it’s sad. I know they want justice and everything, but this is not the right way to be doing that.”
Elsewhere, in Beverly Hills, some used heavy equipment to smash the windows of a police cruiser and flattening the tires of a Santa Monica Police Department vehicle, among others. On Rodeo Drive, a large group of young people were caught on tape breaking into the Alexander McQueen store, and leaving with merchandise. Earlier, a small and peaceful group of protesters marched down the street with signs.
In Santa Ana, about 250 people protested, with some hurling fireworks at officers. Around two to three buildings were looted and a couple of small fires were set. At least one deputy was injured.
Earlier Saturday, the protests were peaceful and focused on the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death was captured on video as an officer held his knee to his neck. A massive crowd had marched through Pan Pacific Park. Many have said they don’t want the violence to distract from calling for justice for Floyd and many others who have died at the hands of police.