National Guard troops arrived in Los Angeles Sunday morning to help restore order after four nights of sometimes violent protests and looting stemming from the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and a state of emergency was declared in Los Angeles County.
At least two dozen National Guard 129th Rescue Wing HC-130J vehicles passed in front of Los Angeles City Hall shortly before 5 a.m. and are expected to be part of the city’s response to any further unrest that develops as demonstrations continue against police brutality.
Roughly 1,000 guard personnel were deployed after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.
Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger announced Sunday that she has proclaimed a state of emergency as well, which will facilitate interagency response coordination and mutual aid, accelerate the procurement of vital supplies, and enable future state and federal reimbursement of costs incurred by the county.
“This emergency comes as we are in the midst of battling another emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxes our resources, but not our resolve,” Barger said. “We will do everything in our power to keep our communities safe and protect lives and property. I continue to call on our residents to maintain calm and seek solutions productively, not destructively.”
Meanwhile, a curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. Sunday to 5:30 a.m. Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters. This will be the second night in a row that the city will be under curfew, which could lead to the arrest of people who are on Los Angeles streets during those hours.
Nationwide, at least 5,000 National Guard soldiers and air personnel have been activated in 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, in response to civil disturbances tied to Floyd-related protests.
Peaceful demonstrations in the Fairfax District Saturday became unruly when several hundred demonstrators converged, with some taking over the intersection of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue, shutting down traffic. At the nearby intersection of Third and Edinburgh Avenue, several police cars were vandalized and rubber bullets were fired to control the crowd.
Police tried to hold the line against further advancement, and could be seen engaging in scuffles with some protesters, and some officers used their clubs. They later brought in large, military-style vehicles to clear the streets, while some sign-carrying protesters chanting “Eat the rich” moved on to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills’ famed shopping destination.
The windows at scores of stores were broken, with people rushing in and clearing shelves of pricey merchandise
The Fairfax District gathering followed a noon Black Lives Matter rally at Pan Pacific Park, at 7600 Beverly Blvd. A handful of similar demonstrations were also held Saturday in other parts of the city.
At a hastily scheduled news conference to address what the city is doing to keep the public safe, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a curfew for the downtown area and initially said he would not ask for National Guard troops. Shortly afterward, he extended curfew, which was in effect from 8 p.m. Saturday until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, to the entire city and asked Newsom to send 500 guard troops to help police.
Villanueva later said the number was closer to 1,000 because he mad a similar request for unincorporated county areas.
Other area cities followed Garcetti’s lead Saturday night, including Culver City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Pasadena, which all implemented similar curfews.
Looting was rampant Saturday at several downtown stores, in the Fairfax District and Beverly Hills with targets including a high-end consignment store on Fairfax Avenue, an eyeglass store on Melrose Avenue, a Target in the Beverly Grove shopping center and a Walgreens at Fourth and Hill streets.
Later in the evening looters cleaned out an Apple store on Melrose Avenue and reportedly took merchandise from a MedMen cannabis dispensary in West Hollywood. Images of similar damage in the Larchmont area was circulated on social media.
The mayor joined many other city officials in sympathizing with demonstrators expressing frustration about repeated acts of police brutality targeting black men, while also appealing for calm. “With liberty comes responsibility to be able to peacefully protest,” Garcetti said.
“For that one or two percent of the protesters who think that (violence) is the way to make a statement, do not do a disservice to the memory of George Floyd (and) the folks who have died at the hands of the brutality that we all stand against,” Garcetti said.
Rev. Najuma Smith Pollard, program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement added, “It is the right thing to stand up and speak out. We don’t need more mayhem. It doesn’t work.”
Demonstrations have been held throughout the nation, and in several other parts of the world, since video of Floyd 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 more than eight 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.
Sunday, several candlelight vigils and other actions in memory of Floyd are scheduled including:
— 3 p.m. in Long Beach, an anti-police brutality protest, outside the Long Beach Police Department, 400 W. Broadway
— 6:30 p.m. in Compton, “For The Compton Community” is being organized by the Compton Tenants Union, at the Compton MLK Memorial, 205 S. Willowbook Ave.
— 7 p.m. in Pasadena, organized by two dozen area churches and featuring remarks from local leaders, candle lightening, and “eight minutes of sustained noise to commemorate the eight minutes George Floyd was choked by Minneapolis police,” on the westside steps of Pasadena City Hall, 100 Garfield Ave.
Earlier Saturday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore joined other city leaders in appealing for calm.
“I am asking for all of Los Angeles to come together and find the ability to peacefully express individual and collective grievances while also maintaining the safety of all of Angelenos,” he said.
The LAPD reported 4,400 calls to 911 within the fist 30 minutes of Saturday’s protests, according to ABC7.
The exact number of arrests will not be available until later Sunday, police said.
On Friday night and Saturday morning, 533 people were arrested in downtown Los Angeles on charges including burglary, looting, probation violations, battery on a police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 were released.
“Six Los Angeles Police Officers were injured during the protests on Friday night and early Saturday morning,” Moore tweeted. “They sustained non-life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.”
In a statement accompanying his emergency declaration statement, Newsom warned against outsiders who might come to California to exploit its “pain to sow chaos and destruction,” and urged a renewed focus on the systemic issues at the core of the disturbances.
“Our state and nation must build from this moment united and more resolved than ever to address racism and its root causes,” he said.
Published: May 31, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News