Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Protests Continue After Night of Violence in California

Voice of America
31 May 2020, 08:05 GMT+10

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - Protests over the death of George Floyd resumed Saturday in California and authorities implored demonstrators to remain peaceful after a night of violence that saw windows smashed, stores robbed and fires set in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, where more than 500 were arrested during an hours-long rampage through downtown.

In Oakland, 13 officers were injured as demonstrators hurled objects at them. A federal contract security officer was killed and another critically injured when a vehicle pulled up to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and someone opened fire. The officers guard the U.S. courthouse as part of their regular duties and were monitoring the protest, Department of Homeland Security officials said.

It wasn't immediately known whether the shooter had anything to do with the protest.

Senator Dianne Feinstein condemned the shooting, saying in a statement that fury over Floyd's death in Minneapolis doesn't justify violence.

"Every effort must be taken to apprehend and prosecute those who use deadly violence," she said. "People must have the right to peacefully and safely protest in Oakland and across the country."

The death of Floyd, 46, who was recorded on video pleading for air as a Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck, produced violence in numerous cities. Police chiefs and police unions called it unjustifiable and excessive force, and the officer has been charged with murder.

Police wary

Demonstrations that resumed by midday Saturday in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento and were peaceful, though police were wary about what might come at night. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said more resources would be employed to guard against violence.

"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 said 533 people were arrested after ignoring repeated orders to disperse when authorities declared an unlawful assembly. They faced a range of charges, including burglary, battery on a police officer, attempted murder, probation violation and failure to disperse. All but 18 were released on their recognizance.

Police had items thrown at them, and six LAPD officers sustained injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.

Demonstrators briefly shut down two freeways as they wound through downtown L.A. for the third night. The situation deteriorated late into the night when windows were smashed and some demonstrators stole items from jewelry stores, a Starbucks coffee shop and other businesses. A fire was set in an intersection and at least two police vehicles were burned.

As the chaos unfolded, Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted: "Let's remember why we march, protect each other, and bring a peaceful end to a painful night."

Mayor pleads for calm

In the San Francisco Bay Area, protests in Oakland and San Jose grew increasingly tense and confrontational as the night wore on. Small fires were set inside a Walgreens and a Mercedes-Benz dealership on Oakland's auto row, where several cars were smashed and spray-painted with graffiti. Businesses in Chinatown were vandalized.

"This is not who we are," Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a videotaped statement Saturday. "We must fight the travesty of racism but we must do it in a way that works. Let's not destroy or harm our own community."

In San Jose, a Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputy fired at an SUV that attempted to drive through a group of protesters, striking two of them while attempting to make a U-turn, the East Bay Times reported.

Police in both cities fired tear gas and flashbang grenades to break up unruly crowds.

Oakland police said in a preliminary report that at least 18 people were arrested and another 60 detained for investigation of stealing.

In Sacramento, nine police officers sustained minor injuries at a protest that drew about 500 people.

Motorist arrested

In Bakersfield, police arrested a man they said drove recklessly through a crowd of protesters, striking a 15-year-old girl and causing minor injuries. Officers monitoring the protest noticed that Michael Tran, 31, passed by the crowd several times and appeared to be talking to the protesters, possibly antagonizing them, police said.

He was booked into jail for investigation of attempted murder.

Police said a number of protesters blocked a roadway, threw bottles and rocks at officers, and vandalized a memorial dedicated to fallen officers. Ten people were arrested for resisting and obstructing officers.

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