Demonstrators marched through the streets of Los Angeles’ Fairfax District and surrounding areas Saturday in a fourth day of local protests over the death of George Floyd.
What appeared to be thousands of people converged by the Pan Pacific Park near The Grove, the Beverly Center and other major streets in the area around noon. For hours after, past 6 p.m., protesters marched through streets and at times clashed with police.
Following the announcement of an 8 p.m. curfew throughout the city of L.A., the Los Angeles Police Department declared gatherings in the Mid-Wilshire area an “unlawful assembly.”
“Those on the street are to leave the area immediately,” the agency said in a tweet.
Along Third Street near Fairfax Avenue, police officers formed a circle and were surrounded by dense crowds of protesters just after 2:30 p.m. with more than a dozen police vehicles lined down the street. Officers and protesters engaged in a tense standoff in an area where some climbed onto buildings, a commuter bus and a billboard. Sky5 was overhead as protesters gathered and marched.
At the intersection of Third and Fairfax, footage on the ground captured police shooting projectiles at a crowd and using batons. The Associated Press reported police in L.A. were firing rubber bullets, which a protester also told KTLA.
“But now all of a sudden you have people who are starting to get violent, which is the cops, and then what are we supposed to do?” the protester said, speaking from the Fairfax District. He did not give his name.
“You shoot rubber bullets. You shoot tear gas into a crowd … and how am I supposed to react?”
At one nearby intersection, people smashed the windows of a police car and spray painted it before it went up in flames. Crowds of people dispersed and ran from the car as billows of smoke and flames rose from its roof.
L.A. Mayor Garcetti announced a curfew would be in effect for downtown Los Angeles between 8 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 a.m. Sunday. But officials later extended the curfew to the entire city.
The night before, a third evening of protests in downtown Los Angeles turned chaotic amid nationwide unrest over the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They ended with the arrest of more than 500 people, authorities said.
Many businesses were looted, several police vehicles were vandalized and six LAPD officers suffered injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds, the department said. Some also set fireworks in the street.
“Last night was a dark reminder of the perils of a society in turmoil and how our people stand to support peaceful expression while being ready to protect the rights of all,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
Of the 533 people detained on suspicion of burglary, looting, probation violation, battery on police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse, 18 remain in custody, police said Saturday.
LAPD did not have an estimate on the damages, but some advocates worry about the harm done to small businesses owned and run by people of color.
Many have been peacefully protesting against police brutality over the past three days, at times blocking the 110 Freeway. But around 6:40 p.m. Friday, some demonstrators began to strike patrol vehicles near Fifth and Olive streets.
The protesters ran when officers gave chase, aerial video from Sky5 showed. One officer was swarmed by protesters after pushing a fleeing civilian into a car. That officer managed to escape.
LAPD quickly subdued the skirmish, but by 9:24 p.m., it declared an unlawful assembly citing “repeated acts of violence [and] property damage.”
Videos from other parts of downtown show several stores being looted, including a jewelry shop, and at least one police car in flames. The LAPD chief tweeted an image of a Starbucks location with its windows and door broken.
“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,” Moore said in a statement earlier Saturday.
Like Moore, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local officials have expressed support for the public’s right to protest but asked them to do so peacefully.
Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Oakland, San Jose and dozens of cities elsewhere in the U.S. saw similar demonstrations as anger boiled over what happened to Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer was video-recorded kneeling on his neck while Floyd uttered “I can’t breathe.”
That officer, Derek Chauvin, was swiftly fired along with three other officers involved and has been charged with murder.
Some Angelenos said Floyd’s death was a reminder of the police beating of Rodney King nearly 30 years ago.
“It’s worse today than it was back then,” Kerman Maddox, who lived near the center of the riots in 1992, told the Los Angeles Times.
In a statement Saturday morning, L.A. Council President Nury Martinez said, “…please protest, please march, please speak out, please cry out to racism’s injustice, including in our police departments, and please do so loudly, but please do so peacefully.”