Violence Erupts Throughout Downtown LA Friday Night; 500 Arrested

An LAPD vehicle was set on fire by protestors in downtown on Friday night. (@mikeymassas)

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Police worked early Saturday morning to disperse crowds in downtown Los Angeles as multiple businesses were looted following demonstrations against police brutality spurred by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier in the week.

The Target store at Seventh and Figueroa streets, a Rite Aid store at 7th and Hope streets, along with the 6th Street Market and the Starbucks on Sixth Street and Spring, and jewelry stores near Sixth Street and Broadway were among the businesses looted just before midnight
Friday.

Three fires were set near the intersection of Hill and Seventh streets, one in the intersection, another south of the intersection on Hill Street, and a third on a sidewalk near a building.

Police set up skirmish lines throughout the downtown area and fired non-lethal ammunition as they pushed a crowd out of the area, with some in the crowd hiding behind vehicles to throw objects at officers.

A KPCC producer who lives downtown says he heard booming and shots fired until about 5:15 a.m. Saturday. "It's like a warzone," he added.


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About 500 people were arrested and five LAPD officers were injured.

The looting came about four hours after several people were detained shortly before 7 p.m. near Fifth and Olive streets for allegedly throwing objects at officers and damaging police cars that were parked near the intersection, according to broadcast reports from the scene.

"I'm sorry that L.A. failed tonight," LAPD Chief Michel Moore told reporters Friday night. "Our ability to have a demonstration — express our views, our anger, our disgust — unfortunately turned into an unruly situation with officers being injured, property damage occurring."

An officer was put in a chokehold and kicked by some protesters in the Pershing Square area, according to broadcast reports from the scene.

Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Gisselle Espinoza told reporters it was disappointing to see protestors attack the officer.

"This was not what we wanted," Espinoza said. "We wanted it to be peaceful. We want people to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble, for speech and we wanted this to be peaceful. We want peoples' voices heard and that's not what's happening."

No arrests have been made in connection with the attack on the officer, Espinoza said.

At least five other officers were injured, including one who was struck in the face by a flying object, according to KNBC4.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m., a group of about 100 blocked traffic on the northbound 110 Freeway, near the James M. Wood Boulevard exit. They were cleared from the freeway, but re-entered near Fifth Street at 8:20 p.m.

KNX Newsradio reporter Pete Demetriou was attacked during the protests, he said on Twitter. About five people punched him before others came to his aid, and a woman grabbed his microphone and yelled obscenities into it, but he was able to push her away.

Photos posted by Demetriou showed items confiscated by officers, including brass knuckles, knives, bottles of urine, spray paint cans and a gun that fires pepper balls.


Demonstrators initially gathered at 5 p.m. outside City Hall and marched south on Spring Street, then north on Figueroa Street. The protest was declared an unlawful assembly shortly before 9:30 p.m. due to "repeated acts of violence and property damage," according to the
LAPD.

People were advised to get off the streets and businesses were told to close in the downtown area from the Santa Monica to the Santa Ana freeways and the Harbor Freeway to Alameda Street. A helicopter announced that those left protesting could be arrested.

Mayor Eric Garcetti sent a message on Twitter at 10 p.m. Friday calling for calm:

"I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love," Garcetti said.

"We respect every Angeleno's right to protest, but violence and vandalism hurts all. Let's remember why we march, protect each other, and bring a peaceful end to a painful night."

People took to the streets Friday for the third consecutive night to demand justice for George Floyd, who died Monday after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin. He pressed his knee on the 46-year-old man's neck for nearly 9 minutes while two other officers helped him keep Floyd down while a fourth officer looked on.

Video footage of the arrest, in which Floyd is heard saying "I can't breathe," spread widely and all four officers were fired. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.

More protests are scheduled for throughout Los Angeles County on Saturday.

CNS contributed to this report.

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