Long Beach officials announce Monday curfew as National Guard troops remain in city after multiple fires, looting

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National Guard troops remain in Long Beach Monday as local officials announced another day of curfew starting 1 p.m. for business districts and 4 p.m. citywide–an order stricter than L.A. County’s 6 p.m. curfew.

The earlier business curfew in Long Beach affects:

  • Belmont Shore and Naples
  • Bixby Knolls
  • Downtown Long Beach
  • Downtown Long Beach
  • East Anaheim
  • Fourth Street
  • Long Beach Airport
  • Magnolia Industrial Group
  • Midtown
  • Uptown
  • The Pike
  • Long Beach Towne Center
  • Douglas Park Business District
  • 2ND & PCH

The order expires 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Mayor Robert Garcia proclaimed Monday’s curfew at a news conference a day after largely peaceful protests against police violence were disrupted by fires and looters who targeted retailers at the Pike Outlets in the downtown area.

Authorities said they had expected an organized protest in front of police headquarters in downtown but crowds grew quicker than expected Sunday afternoon, prompting police to call for assistance from surrounding law enforcement agencies and the National Guard.

A strip mall at Seventh Street and Long Beach Boulevard in Long Beach is ransacked on May 31, 2020. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A strip mall at Seventh Street and Long Beach Boulevard in Long Beach is ransacked on May 31, 2020. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Footage posted online shows storefronts shattered, including that of a T-Mobile, Guess and Forever 21. People were also seen walking away from shops carrying merchandise.

Garcia said at least seven businesses were looted.

Firefighters also had to extinguish dozens of debris, vehicle and structure fires, Long Beach fire Chief Xavier Espino said. Fortunately, Espino said, the blaze that erupted at a clothing store at Seventh Street and Pine Avenue just before 10 p.m. was the only one that required a major response.

Officials arrested about 75 people on suspicion of looting, burglary and violations of the curfew declared Sunday, according to the city.

The extensive damage to businesses came to light Monday morning, when locals, business owners and crews swept away shards of glass and other debris from sidewalks.

In the press conference on Monday, the mayor blamed organized criminal groups that he believes were going city to city across California.

Garcia did not share details of any evidence, only stating that investigators are communicating with federal and other local agencies.

“I think we’ll have more to say on that in the days ahead,” Garcia said.

At the news conference, authorities also addressed criticism of police response after at least one local journalist reported being hit with a rubber bullet despite simply doing his job.

The mayor said he has apologized to the reporter and echoed the police chief’s reassurance that an investigation is underway.

“Yes, we have a version of what happened, but being in this business for 34 years, there’s always two sides to every story,” Luna said. “I do not want anybody from the media to get hurt.”

It’s unclear how many others were struck by rubber bullets, but city officials did not report other injuries among protesters, police and firefighters.

In a tweet after the news conference, the city said “in case of any demonstrations, Media is exempt from order— but if you observe criminal activity please use caution and distance yourself to prevent injuries or confusion.”

“We should be angry and saddened by the behavior of these people and these criminals,” Garcia said of those who broke into businesses Sunday.

The police chief also issued a warning: “If you were looting, we have your license plate number, and we have your face. We’re coming after you, and we’re going to arrest you.”

As officials slammed the looters, some locals cleaning up early Monday emphasized the cause behind the protests, which have also roiled cities elsewhere amid nationwide outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“They’re not going to stop until the laws change,” said one resident as she swept a sidewalk with a broom. “I love my city, that’s why I’m here.”

One man said he did not condone people’s destructive behavior, but also underscored the need for justice.

“The killing of brothers and sisters on the street, we’ve been taking this for a very long time,” he said.

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