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Arrests during George Floyd protests swell to near 3,000 in L.A. County; many are locals

Los Angeles police officers gear up during protests that have rocked the city after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Protestors are arrested for violating curfew along Sunset Blvd. at Gower in Hollywood.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Nearly 3,000 demonstrators in Southern California have found themselves in handcuffs after taking to the streets since Friday to condemn the death of George Floyd and the use of excessive force by police.

Booking records reviewed by The Times show the vast majority of those arrested in Los Angeles County for looting, vandalism and burglary offenses are from here, seeming to refute perceptions of “outside agitators” coming in to fuel unrest.

The bulk of those arrests have taken place in Los Angeles, where authorities have taken approximately 2,500 people into custody between Friday and Tuesday morning after a mix of peaceful protests and property destruction rocked downtown, the Fairfax District, Van Nuys and Hollywood, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

Santa Monica and Long Beach police arrested an additional 475 people during largely peaceful protests that were also overshadowed by looting in both cities Sunday.

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Floyd was an unarmed black Minneapolis man who died in custody after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes despite Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged in his death but calls for the other officers on scene to be prosecuted have continued.

Police officials in each jurisdiction have released only general information about who was arrested, and why. The Times has requested specific information about arrests from each city where looting and protests have occurred, and received only a partial response from the Los Angeles Police Department as of Tuesday morning. Long Beach officials promised to provide information “shortly,” and multiple calls and emails to a Santa Monica police spokesman were not returned.

Based on public statements from officials and booking records reviewed by The Times, it appears the vast majority of those being taken into custody have been cited and released for either failing to obey an order to disperse or violating a city or county curfew order.

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On Friday, during large-scale protests in downtown L.A., police arrested 533 people on suspicion of burglary, looting, probation violations, battery on a police officer, attempted murder and failure to disperse. All but 18 of those people were released, according to an LAPD statement.

Josh Rubenstein, the department’s chief spokesman, said the majority of those arrested Friday were cited and eventually released for failing to disperse after the department declared all of downtown to be an unlawful assembly, but he could not immediately provide a specific number.

The department said it arrested an additional 398 people during Saturday’s protests and LAPD Chief Michel Moore estimated about 700 people had been arrested Sunday. Moore said about 10% of Sunday’s arrests were linked to burglary and looting.

An additional 585 people were arrested in Hollywood alone Monday night, mostly for curfew violations, according to two law enforcement sources who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter candidly. Just 20 of those people were booked in connection with looting, though police also impounded about 50 vehicles, the sources said.

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During a meeting of the city’s civilian Police Commission Tuesday morning, Moore said a total of 2,500 people had been arrested since Friday. Given the department had confirmed upwards of 1,600 arrests had taken place over the weekend, that suggested more than 800 people were arrested Monday night, the most yet during an individual night of unrest.

A review of booking records available to The Times shows 575 people have been arrested between Friday and Tuesday on suspicion of crimes likely related to violence during the protests — including looting, robbery, vandalism, burglary and attacking police. Those booking records do not show those taken into custody for failing to disperse, curfew violations or other lesser offenses for which there is no bail schedule, meaning those persons would have been cited and released by police on the same day.

The booking records seem to throw cold water on national speculation that outside agitators — either left-wing anarchists or white supremacists — have been driving the violence and looting in Los Angeles. Of the 575 people arrested for related crimes, 537 of them live in Los Angeles County, records show.

An LAPD official with knowledge of the situation also told The Times that the department has not developed any intelligence about outside interlopers stoking bedlam during the protests. Asked specifically if anti-fascist demonstrators have been involved in the unrest, as President Trump and others have alleged, the official said, “if they are, they’re not getting arrested.”

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Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud also estimated that 95% of those arrested Sunday did not live in the city, but she did not offer additional information about where she believed the looters or demonstrators came from.

The Times has interviewed several people arrested in Santa Monica on Sunday who say they traveled from other parts of L.A. County to participate in the demonstrations and were arrested for curfew violations. Santa Monica, a city roughly eight square miles in size, is bordered on all sides by Los Angeles neighborhoods.

In addition, the LAPD has been collecting evidence throughout the protests, mostly in the form of video that could be used to identify individuals and bring charges against them in the future. The FBI on Monday also put out a nationwide call for pictures and videos that could help identify people “actively instigating violence” at protests across the country.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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