As anger over the death of George Floyd spreads across the nation, Los Angeles police said Friday that they wouldn’t tolerate violence or property damage during local demonstrations.
Protesters rallied in downtown L.A. for a second night Thursday, and they’re expected to return Friday. The events have mostly been peaceful, but the Police Department issued a statement saying it’s concerned about “an increasing level of violence and property damage committed by small number of detractors.”
According to LAPD, demonstrators threw projectiles at officers and damaged businesses in the area. The agency described those incidents as “isolated,” but said they would “take enforcement action” on anyone who acts unlawfully.
“We stand with our communities and rebuke any instance of police brutality as well as acts of violence or property damage,” Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.
Protests are allowed under L.A. County’s current coronavirus health order, but participants are still expected to use face coverings and keep their distance as much as possible, said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s top public health official.
“The ability for people to protest in a peaceful way is in fact one of only two event gatherings that are allowed across the state,” she said. “We do ask people to adhere with the guidance.”
On Wednesday, protesters rallied downtown for hours, and the event was largely peaceful outside of a period when a group of 300 marched across the 101 Freeway.
Lanes were shut down as some demonstrators swarmed two California Highway Patrol vehicles, shattering their rear windows. Several people jumped onto the hood of one cruiser, and one man who rolled off the car was hospitalized.
Although LAPD initially said no arrests were made in Wednesday’s event, CHP later said the injured man was in custody at the hospital and would face criminal charges.
On Thursday, the demonstration largely remained outside LAPD’s headquarters, and another group marched from the Santa Monica police headquarters to an LAPD station in Venice.
In Fontana, nine people were arrested Thursday after rocks were thrown at businesses, vehicles and officers as a group of about 100 marched on Sierra Avenue, according to Fontana police. Officials declared the assembly unlawful about three hours after it began, and spent another hour dispersing the crowd.
The unrest has resulted in violence elsewhere — most notably in Minneapolis, but also in Denver, New York, Columbus, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Louisville.
In a video message posted Thursday, Moore called the video of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the handcuffed man pleaded he couldn’t breathe “disturbing.” Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder on Friday, as new video emerged of additional officers kneeling on Floyd during the arrest.
Moore said his own department has also fallen short and that he shares in concerns about excessive force.
“Street demonstrations are and should be occurring across this county, and in this city, to bring voices to the injustices,” he said.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also on Thursday voiced support for protests.
“Angelenos should follow their conscience in response to the pain and senselessness of this horror,” he wrote in a tweet. “I will always believe in expressing ourselves powerfully, peacefully, and safely.”