Scores of looters, many of whom appeared to be unconnected to demonstrations over the death of a black man named George Floyd by Minneapolis police, raided businesses in Van Nuys and Hollywood today.
Dozens of looters poured out of a Boost Mobile store on Van Nuys Boulevard late this afternoon, just blocks away from a peaceful protest that required the attention of police in the area.
Members of that pack also raided a marijuana dispensary and pharmacy. At each scene, windows were shattered and glass littered the sidewalks.
Dozens more looters were arrested for burglary after ransacking a Walgreens at Van Nuys and Sherman Way, in Van Nuys, and police said many of them were armed with hammers. The Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately announce the number of arrests.
The primary Van Nuys protest -- and most other gatherings Monday afternoon -- were conducted without violence. The crowd in Van Nuys occasionally spilled onto streets, until a discussion was held with officers on the scene and demonstrators moved back to sidewalks. Dozens of officers responded with an armada of police SUVs parading into the neighborhood.
At least three nonviolent protests were underway in Hollywood about 4 p.m. Thousands of people marched west along Hollywood Boulevard, chanting and carrying signs, including a lead banner with the words, "Say their names," in reference to victims of police shootings. The group marched in a circular pattern, eventually moving south to Sunset Boulevard and then back east.
Several people were arrested for unlawful assembly in Hollywood, and many of them waited in the 6100 block of Sunset Boulevard, near Gower Street, to be taken away by a sheriff's department bus. Others were detained near Selma and Ivar avenues.
Looters Follows Protests
About 6 p.m., a band of looters stormed the Rite Aid at 6130 Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood's Gower Gulch Plaza strip mall, and other businesses in the plaza had their windows shattered.
LAPD arrests three outside CNN office in Hollywood. The CNN tower’s sign is also not illuminated tonight. pic.twitter.com/tj23zeQTPF— Matt Hamilton (@MattHjourno) June 2, 2020
More looting in Hollywood overnight after at least three peaceful protests with thousands of people marching along the famed Hollywood Blvd. LAPD tells me looters are organizing caravans on social media with as many as 60 cars at a time. @FOXLA @GDLA pic.twitter.com/DZ3KgilaLV— Mario Ramirez (@MarioFOXLA) June 2, 2020
Late Monday afternoon, police spotted a group of suspected looters in a dark-colored Dodge Charger, prompting a police pursuit that eventually fizzled as the driver navigated recklessly through Van Nuys streets. There would be more car chases for law enforcement that followed.
In downtown Los Angeles, hundreds of protesters amassed in front of City Hall, briefly marching across the street to LAPD headquarters, then returning. That protest was also uneventful.
In West Los Angeles, another group of protesters gathered outside the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood. Some members of that group used Wilshire Boulevard to march onto the San Diego (405) Freeway and briefly block northbound lanes. Police quickly responded and the crowd retreated.
Several Westwood protesters were arrested outside Los Angeles Country Club in the posh Holmby Hills neighborhood, just west of Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard.
On the outskirts of West Hollywood, hundreds of people gathered peacefully outside the Laugh Factory comedy club, the marquee of which featured a photo of Floyd. That gathering was highlighted by a poignant moment when LAPD Cmdr. Cory Palka spoke to the crowd and dropped to a knee in a sign of solidarity with the congregants, which cheered in response.
The demonstrators assured Palka they would disperse peacefully when the countywide curfew took effect at 6 p.m. Well before them, many people had already started walking away.
Support for peaceful protest
City and county authorities hailed the generally peaceful posture of the vast majority of people protesting the death of Floyd, and attributed the waves of destruction that occurred to "opportunists" taking advantage of demonstrations to loot and vandalize.
"For those that are doing peaceful protest ... we hear you, we support you and we know that you are not part of this element that is going out and doing this looting," Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
"And we appreciate you helping to protect those businesses, which I saw time and time again over the weekend. But please stay safe."
Barger said legitimate protesters were not out to cause problems.
"You've got a small group that infiltrated and, in fact, I believe used these peaceful demonstrators as a way to divert attention so they could go in and do illegal activity," she said.
Barger called the looters "criminals who, quite frankly, are not here for George Floyd, because if you listened to George Floyd's family this morning, you heard loud and clear it's not about violence. It's about protest and change, and in this county, we are committed to working with every single sector to ensure that happens, including law enforcement."
That sentiment was echoed by other elected officials and law enforcement authorities across the Southland -- all vowing to support peaceful protest while condemning instigators who infiltrate crowds to sow violence, and also decrying looters who arrived in vehicles to smash their way into businesses while police were tending to protests.