LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a night of violence, protesters vandalized and burned police SUVs during the daylight hours Saturday in Los Angeles, and Mayor Eric Garcetti imposed a curfew in the city's downtown section to try to head off more damage,
Protesters were in the streets in many California cites — blocking a freeway ramp in San Francisco and an interstate in San Diego and breaking glass on the front doors to the Sacramento County jail. Oakland girded for more violence as protesters planned to gather around nightfall. San Jose cleaned up after a violent Friday night saw 38 people arrested, one officer hospitalized and eight police cars vandalized.
Los Angeles had entered the weekend on a hopeful note as authorities lifted more coronavirus restrictions and allowed restaurant dining to resume and hair salons to reopen.
But after a Friday night of violence saw more than 500 arrests, a mostly peaceful demonstration Saturday near the Grove, a popular outdoor mall in the middle of the city, devolved in the afternoon when protesters set several Los Angeles Police Department vehicles on fire, broke store windows and covered a city bus with graffiti.
At least nine police SUVs were damaged or destroyed — tagged with anti-police graffiti, windows smashed, tires punctured. Police used batons to move protesters back and shot rubber bullets to scatter the crowd.
Cyndia Ortega, 26 of Los Angeles, stood in a parking lot outside a Trader Joe’s with a smashed glass door, just steps from the police line. Ortega said she supported peaceful protests.
“We’re not here to break things and torch things," she said.
The demonstration came hours after LAPD Chief Michel Moore said more resources would be employed to guard against a repeat of the rampage through downtown late Friday by protesters who smashed windows, robbed stores and set a fire in an intersection.
“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.
Garcetti imposed a curfew for the city's downtown section from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The neighboring city of Beverly Hills did the same.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said authorities were closely monitoring organizing by violent extremist groups who may be trying to use the protests for their own agendas.
“To those who seek to exploit Californians’ pain to sow chaos and destruction, you are not welcome,” he said. “Our state and nation must build from this moment united and more resolved than ever to address racism and its root causes.”
In Oakland, 13 officers were injured late Friday 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.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein condemned the shooting, saying in a statement that fury over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police 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 the 46-year-old Floyd, who was recorded on video pleading for air as a white officer pressed a knee on his neck, has shocked the country and produced violence in numerous citie s. Police chiefs and police unions have called it unjustifiable and excessive force. The officer has been charged with murder.
The LAPD said 533 people were arrested Friday 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. Six LAPD officers sustained injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.
As the chaos unfolded, Garcetti tweeted: “Let’s remember why we march, protect each other, and bring a peaceful end to a painful night."
In San Francisco on Saturday, several hundred protesters sat in an intersection, chanting and calling for killings by police to stop. Nearly all were wearing masks following weeks of stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
They chanted Floyd’s name and sat or stood in the intersection facing a line of police officers.
Deedee Williams, 42, of San Francisco, said she came to support Floyd’s family and to seek justice.
“I’m a mother of four black sons, so on behalf of all the mothers that are losing their sons to this senseless violence by the people that’s supposed to protect us, I’m here to grieve with them and support them,” she said.
Nishelle Faith Seals, 13, of Hayward, held her arms in the air with the crowd as they chanted Floyd’s name.
“I feel proud because I’m fighting for my people,” she said.
In Sacramento, a large crowd swarmed to the state Capitol and briefly shut down Interstate 5 before being pushed off the freeway by officers. The daylong demonstration at times turned violent as protesters threw water bottles at officers and broke the glass doors at the jail. Highway patrol officers jabbed protesters with batons when they tried to storm a highway in West Sacramento.
On Friday night, 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. City officials said more than 70 businesses 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.
Associated Press writers Juliet Williams in San Francisco and Frank Baker in Los Angeles contributed to this report.