National Guard arrives in Sacramento, as protests, mayhem rage in much of the Bay Area
The high notes of broken glass being shoveled into metal dumpsters reverberated through downtown Sacramento on Monday morning as shopkeepers and volunteers cleaned up after another lawless night.
It was a scene repeated across much of Northern California, after thousands of demonstrators took to streets Sunday for a third day of protests after the death in Minnesota of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer sparked national outrage last week.
While daytime events have been largely without violence, after sundown, crowds have faced off with police and turned their anger and attention on retail stores and other businesses, despite the efforts of some organizers to prevent mayhem. The protests have been strongly anti-law enforcement, with people scrawling graffiti targeting police on sidewalks, statues and state buildings.
Some 500 members of the California National Guard arrived in Sacramento on Monday afternoon to guard critical infrastructure, city officials said, two days after Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed 1,000 guard troops to Los Angeles. Those deployed in Sacramento are not expected to handle protests but are there to help free up local officers from more mundane duties, city officials said.
In San Francisco, 200 additional officers were sent from other jurisdictions including Merced as part of a mutual aid agreement. In Oakland, a spokesperson for Mayor Libby Schaaf said the California Highway Patrol was assisting local police.
Police in many areas have grown increasingly aggressive as the protests persist. Sunday, law enforcement fired tear gas, rubber bullets and other nonlethal weapons into crowds at multiple locations throughout the region. Multiple injuries have been reported of both officers and protesters.
Thieves and vandals also struck numerous businesses, in both cities and suburbs, raiding stores including Best Buy, Target and Japanese clothier Uniqlo. In some places, groups converged on stores at once, in areas without large protests, leaving police scrambling to respond.
In Oakland, police arrested three people early Monday in a shooting at police department headquarters. Overall, about 60 people were arrested on gun charges, firing at officers, vandalism and other charges, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In San Francisco, police arrested dozens for unlawful assembly as protests swirled around city hall, with a small one outside the home of Mayor London Breed. As of Sunday night, Breed had not asked Newsom to dispatch the National Guard, after previously asking the governor to put the Guard on standby.
In San Leandro, people ransacked and stole goods from two malls — Marina Square and Bayfair — and there were media reports a car dealership was also attacked.
There also was unrest in suburbs such as Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Danville and Fremont. In Walnut Creek, a woman was shot and injured in the arm in one of the melees. Walnut Creek, Danville, San Jose and San Francisco were among the cities imposing curfews Sunday night.
As of Monday, BART had closed at least seven transit stations — Civic Center, Concord, Lafayette, Powell, San Leandro, Walnut Creek and 12th St. Oakland City Center.
Sunday night, some police in both Oakland and Sacramento could be seen kneeling with protesters, according to images on Twitter and other social media. Last week, Oakland’s police union, representing rank and file officers, took the unprecedented step of condemning Floyd’s death and the actions of the officers involved.
“We stand with all in our community who have traditionally been marginalized, oppressed, and who have been harmed by our systems and institutions,” the Oakland Police Department stated in a tweet.
Across the nine Bay Area counties, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals rose to 265 on Saturday, the area’s highest one-day total since May 14, according to state data reviewed by the Chronicle. Many protesters did not wear masks and few if any practiced social distancing. With an incubation period of up to two weeks, it remains unclear how the protests will affect the containment of COVID-19.
The toll of damage was also hard on small-business owners, some of whom have already been financially hurt by the pandemic.
In Sacramento, Manny Hundal stood in front of his pizza store, Pieology, on Monday broom in hand, surveying the holes where three floor-to-ceiling glass windows used to be.
Hundal said he received a call from his security company around 11:30 Sunday night informing him something was happening, and he drove down to see. By then, his store had already been hit and the street near the state Capitol was “pandemonium,” he said.
He said he expects more vandalism Monday night, but also believes there may be a harsher crackdown by law enforcement in the face of ongoing destruction.
“This is not what it’s all about,” he said.
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