Fighting, looting lead to 100 arrests in San Diego protests
Windows were broken and some stores were looted late Sunday and early Monday in downtown San Diego in the aftermath of a daylong protest over the killing of George Floyd and police violence, with officers reporting more than 100 arrests being made.
San Diego police said on Twitter shortly after 2:30 a.m. that more than 100 people had been arrested and booked into jail for charges ranging from failure to disperse, assaulting officers, burglary and vandalism.
After a weekend of protests around the state, officials on Monday closed all state buildings with offices in downtown areas, a sweeping mandate that covers everything from Department of Motor Vehicles offices to those that license workers and provide health care.
“After consultation with the California Highway Patrol and Office of Emergency Services, the decision was made this evening to advise all state departments with offices in downtown city areas to close tomorrow, and to notify staff of the decision,” said Amy Palmer, a spokeswoman for the state Government Operations Agency.
The directive was sent Sunday evening, and it was left up to officials at the agencies to determine which buildings should be closed.
A state Department of Justice memo sent to employees said the attorney general’s offices in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego would be closed, though employees who can work from home should do so.
Get live updates from Los Angeles Times journalists as they report on protests across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
San Diego police said several businesses, including CVS and 7-Eleven stores in downtown and an AT&T store, were looted late Sunday.
At 10 p.m., police reported via Twitter that they were trying to clear the area near Pacific Highway and Broadway after an unlawful assembly had been declared due to acts of violence and vandalism.
Over the next several hours, officers reported on social media about rocks being thrown at officers and patrol cars and vandals breaking windows.
“Peaceful demonstrations will be facilitated. Violent & destructive acts will be addressed,” police said on Twitter.
Early Monday, a police spokesman said updated information about the number of arrests made over the weekend would likely be released later in the day.
The vandalism and looting came after hundreds of people gathered in downtown to protest on Sunday, with marchers at one point shutting down traffic on Interstate 5.
At times, protesters had tense standoffs with officers, who occasionally fired tear gas, flashbangs and less-lethal ammunition to try to maintain control. Around 6 p.m., much of the group marched to the County Administration Building, where an estimated 1,000 people held a moment of silence for more than six minutes.
Despite efforts by the mayor and police chief to strike the right tone in their response to the protests over the death of George Floyd, many in Los Angeles say they missed the mark.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer took to Twitter early Monday to say looters and rioters would not be allowed to hijack peaceful protests.
“Peaceful protesters march because they care about our community, justice, and accountability. Looters and rioters do not,” the mayor tweeted. “We won’t stand for anyone hijacking this moment to perpetuate violence. The city will keep working to maintain order.”
The arrests in San Diego early Monday came after a weekend of demonstrations in the region and across the country.
Protesters took to the streets of La Mesa Saturday afternoon, at one point walking onto Interstate 8 and closing down the freeway. The largely peaceful day of demonstrating dramatically changed after the sun went down, with crowds looting stores at Grossmont Center and in downtown and fires being set that destroying vehicles and several buildings during the evening hours.
On Sunday, a large group of volunteers showed up in downtown La Mesa and worked to clean up businesses areas that had been damaged.
Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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