A day after Long Beach residents took to the street to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd, Mayor Robert Garcia held a press conference to address incidents of looting to businesses across the city.
In his comments, Garcia praised the estimated 3000 protesters who gathered to protest police brutality and thanked them for organizing peacefully.
“The vast majority of these folks were out there doing the right thing,” Garcia said. “[They were] talking about their amendments and their first amendment rights to be able to protest peacefully.
While Garcia praised protesters who showed up to express their support peacefully, he also blamed the vandalism of Long Beach businesses on a “group of individuals.”
“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,” he said.
In response to the looting, Garcia announced that the City was implementing a curfew for Long Beach residents. The first one will begin at 1pm for the business district, but a citywide curfew will go into effect from 4pm to 5am tomorrow. Exemptions include people traveling to and from work, seeking or giving emergency medical care, emergency responders, news media, cleanups and securing businesses.
According to Robert Luna, the chief of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), officers were aware of the protest, but that the size exceeded their expectations.
The department believed that the protest was going to consist of several hundred people, but the crowd quickly grew to “several thousand.”
“I want to emphasize that the majority of the group was peaceful,” Luna said and stated that the looting happened around the protest.
Throughout the night, the officials said that 75 people were arrested and that the Long Beach Police Department will release more information as soon as possible.
Due to the high amount of looting across Long Beach, Luna stated that the City decided to call in the National Guard for support. He also added that the National Guard would remain in Long Beach.
The chief responded to questions regarding reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez from KPCC an LAist who was shot in the throat, by stating that the City reached out to the individual and will be conducting an internal affairs investigation.
Chief Xavier Espino, of the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD), said that firefighters responded to over 100 fires across the City.
Firefighters also responded to a structure fire at Men’s Warehouse on Seventh Street and Pine Avenue but said they were able to contain the flames.
In the wake of these events, Garcia praised residents who showed up the morning after the looting to help clean broken glass and damaged property.
See related story: Long Beach community comes together to clean up DTLB after weekend looting
“Many residents [and] business owners are out there right now cleaning up some of the destruction and looting that happened last night,” Garcia said. “And, to see our residents, many with tears in their eyes, with brooms sweeping [and] cleaning, I was awestruck and amazed by their resilience, their love for our city and their commitment to each other.”