STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — In Stockton, demonstrators protested at Martin Luther King Plaza Sunday.
Police Chief Eric Jones said the protesters were peaceful but at least two separate groups damaged and burglarized businesses.
Cell phone video shared by FOX40’s partner The Record shows what many have described as a peaceful protest at Stockton’s MLK Plaza.
“Came together. We healed a little bit, we listened, we heard, we hugged and we loved,” said the protest’s organizer, Delmar Johnson, who is with Balloons Over Bullets.
“Was peaceful. They got their message out and they have a very important message and they were able to deliver that message without any criminal behavior, vandalism,” Chief Jones said.
However, on the other side of the city, suspects broke into and burglarized businesses.
“I think it’s very important for us all to understand the difference between these groups,” Jones said. “I would say the main difference is intent.”
Jones said the ill intent the burglars may have had puts the community in danger.
“It’s illegal,” he said. “It’s putting the rest of the public, our community at risk and it’s taking our resources away from where they could be otherwise.”
At Sherwood and Weberstown malls, a number of teens and kids, some as young as 10, were either suspected of or arrested for vandalism.
Mayor Michael Tubbs said in a Facebook post, “They will be held accountable and talked to for their actions, but they are not ‘looters,’ they are 10, 12 and 16 year old kids in need of correction and direction.”
“Extremely young age and extremely concerning,” Jones said.
As a result of the vandalism, stores in Stockton boarded and shuttered their doors and windows.
“Do not tie these looters with the peaceful protests because it’s two separate people,” said Rev. Bennie Martin.
Twenty-four-year-old Joseph Briggs, along with three teenage boys, were all arrested on suspicion of stealing from a Walmart.
Organizers and participants of the MLK Plaza demonstration said their intent was to give Stockton families a voice.
“We didn’t need to be breaking stuff up to get the point across. We don’t need to do that because all we need to do is be heard right now,” Johnson told FOX40. “We stand in solidarity for George Floyd. Yeah, those three officers, they need to be arrested.”
Monday’s demonstration is set to last until about 6 p.m.