LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police officers took a knee with demonstrators in Los Angeles on Tuesday amid calls for peace after days of disturbances in California and across the nation over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Speakers at a clergy-led gathering in downtown LA urged demonstrators to heed the call of Floyd’s family for people to protest peacefully in pursuit of justice and not for their own purposes.
Other major cities including San Francisco and San Diego also were calm.
Los Angeles County, however, announced its 10 million residents would again be under curfew starting at 6 p.m. Other jurisdictions around the state also renewed curfews.
The full impact of curfews on the ability to police downtown Los Angeles and other areas of the city was evident by Sunday night, Police Chief Michel Moore said.
Violence and thefts on Monday were not on the scale of the weekend, when blocks of stores were devastated, police cars torched and officers injured.
Most protests Monday were smaller, although an estimated 15,000 people gathered in Oakland and about 5,000 demonstrated in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.
In Sacramento, where two-thirds of downtown businesses were damaged over the weekend, 500 National Guard troops were deployed and the city imposed a Monday night curfew.
|El Dorado County||50|
|Los Angeles County||200|
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Most demonstrations were peaceful and sympathy was expressed by law enforcement. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco took a knee at the invitation of demonstrators.
“We support and will protect those who wish to demonstrate peacefully,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna in Los Angeles said while announcing the FBI will help identify people who commit serious crimes.
San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said Floyd’s death prompted him to revisit department policy and stop the use of a controversial neck restraint method. Floyd, who was black, was handcuffed and on the ground pleading for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes.
Moore, the LAPD chief, criticized looters as capitalizing on the death of Floyd and said “his death is on their hands.” Moore quickly said he regretted that characterization but added he was not apologizing to those committing violence and destroying livelihoods.
“Looting is wrong, but it is not the equivalent of murder and I did not mean to equate the two,” Moore said later.
Most of Monday’s demonstrations ended when curfews took effect. But remaining crowds tossed fireworks and bottles in several cities, and authorities responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Police who had been overwhelmed during the weekend were reinforced by 4,500 National Guard troops.
“Don’t be dumb,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned before the night’s curfew went into effect.
Even so, scattered attacks on stores threatened to overshadow the message of protesters. Televised images showed attacks on stores in Van Nuys and Hollywood. Police said some people carried hammers.
At one point, a handful of protesters stopped would-be thieves from entering a Walgreens on Sunset Boulevard.
Many of the trashed businesses had only recently reopened after closures due to the coronavirus. Volunteers turned out to help merchants clean up broken glass, board up storefronts and scrub away graffiti.
Alex Rose clutched a garbage-picker as he joined others cleaning up downtown Sacramento.
“There’s a very clear distinction between protesters and the looters,” said Rose, who protested during the day Sunday. “I went home last night, and that’s when the criminals came out.”
Some leaders blamed outsiders for the violence.
Oakland’s acting police chief said organized thieves traveled more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from other cities.
“Fifteen, 20, 30 cars at a time, hitting as you’ve seen different shopping malls, different areas,” Chief Susan Manheimer said.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said some people “came to this city with crowbars, bolt cutters, tools that were designed specifically to get into businesses, to take property and loot.”