Scores of looters, many of whom appeared to be unconnected to demonstrations over the in-custody death of George Floyd by Minneapolis, raided businesses in Van Nuys and Hollywood Monday.
Hundreds of people were arrested in both communities, most for unlawful assembly and breaking a curfew that was in effect until early Tuesday in LA County.
Looting in Van Nuys
Local news from across Southern California
Dozens of looters poured out of a Boost Mobile store on Van Nuys Boulevard late Monday 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. The cleanup began early Tuesday and included help from volunteers with Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Local 661 from Sylmar. They'll be cleaning up glass and installing plywood on businesses.
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.
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.
Hundreds Arrested in Hollywood
Hundreds of people were arrested in Hollywood for unlawful assembly, 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.
About 6 p.m., a band of looters broke off from the protest and 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.
Protests at Other Locations
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.
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.
The demonstrations came a day after protests in Santa Monica and Long Beach provided a rouse for wanton destruction highlighted by burglary, arson, violence and intimidation.
Police agencies in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Long Beach combined to report nearly 1,200 arrests during those protests, many of them misdemeanors for violating curfews.
Santa Barbara sheriff's deputies assisted in restoring order in Santa Monica, and later, National Guard troops arrived to assist with the peace-keeping effort but by then, the damage had been done. The city's upscale shopping district resembled a war zone Sunday night, with dozens of businesses vandalized or looted. Throughout the protests, brazen bands of looters drove into nearby areas, leaping out of vehicles and engaging in smash-and-grab robberies.
The city's fire department said they put out nine blazes, and Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud said about 400 people were arrested, 95% of whom were not residents.
Meanwhile in Long Beach, police remained hopelessly outnumbered and seemingly ceded businesses to the vandals. Several thousand people took part in a protest that started at 3 p.m. at Long Beach Police Headquarters and marched through the downtown area. Police eventually set up skirmish lines along Pine Avenue, and protests remained largely nonviolent, other that individuals who threw fireworks at officers.
Around 5 p.m., looters began their rampage, hitting several businesses in The Pike Outlets including T-Mobile and Luxury Perfume. They also stole from the Jean Machine in the City Place Shopping Center, Mark Schneider Fine Jewelry in the Promenade, a Ross store and many businesses along Long Beach Boulevard including El Super and a CVS. They could be seen making multiple trips inside stores to carry out armfuls of merchandise, which they loaded into vehicles, taking selfies and brazenly smiling for television cameras.
The Long Beach police force was supplemented by mutual aid from area cities and the sheriff's department and was expecting National Guard troops, officials said.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said about 75 arrests were made Sunday and he blasted looters who took advantage of the protests to engage in lawlessness.
"What happened last night to our small businesses was unacceptable. We should be angry and saddened by the behavior of these people and these criminals," Garcia said.
Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said he supports the cause of protesters and was equally dismayed by Floyd's death in Minneapolis. He said the vast majority of demonstrators acted peacefully, but there were select agitators in the crowd who threw rocks, bricks and bottles at officers.
"This is not the way to create change," the chief said. "Not at all."
He also said police "didn't allow" looting to occur, but officers struggled to respond to a rapidly unfolding melee and to major increases in calls for help. Luna said Long Beach police typically receive about 1,726 calls for service on an average day, but that number jumped to 4,686 on Sunday.
National Guard troops also faced off with demonstrators Sunday outside City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The verbal confrontation became more active around 6:30 p.m. after the countywide curfew went into effect and police began making mass arrests of people who refused to disperse.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said that about 700 arrests were made during Sunday's demonstrations, on top of 400 arrests Saturday and 500 on Friday.
Moore said he was seeing ``attacks on officers the likes of which I haven't seen in decades,'' noting projectiles hurled at police.
Various protesters in turn have accused police of using heavy-handed tactics during the protests, including the firing of rubber bullets, tear gas and other projectiles at demonstrators.
In both Santa Monica and Long Beach, volunteers and business owners gathered Monday morning to help clear broken glass from streets, clean graffiti and secure businesses, generally with plywood boards.
"Where are we today in Santa Monica? Today, we are rebuilding," Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day told a crowd at the Santa Monica Pier Monday morning. "We are not defeated. ... Today, we show the nation what a community means and why it matters."
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn was among those helping business owners in Long Beach clean and secure their properties. Another community cleanup effort was being held in nearby Lakewood.
A countywide curfew was imposed Sunday in Los Angeles from 6 p.m to 6 a.m. Monday after the violence and looting in Santa Monica and Long Beach. That curfew was imposed again on Monday for the entire county and city of Los Angeles. Several cities issued modified curfews of their own, with citywide curfews taking effect early afternoon in places such as Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.
Beverly Hills had been hard-hit Saturday along with L.A.'s Fairfax District.
Roughly 1,000 National Guard personnel were deployed to the area over the weekend after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.