Santa Monica faces riots, looting amid George Floyd protests

A peaceful protest in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday over the death of George Floyd descended into chaos after some of the protesters started looting local businesses, with the ransacking caught on video.

Hundreds of people gathered around noon to march down Ocean Boulevard, holding signs that read: “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” among others.

Law enforcement prevented the protesters from moving further up the street, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. The crowd and police mostly dispersed, but a smaller group of the protesters started looting some stores and setting off fireworks.

City officials imposed a 4 p.m. curfew – up from an 8 p.m. curfew that neighboring cities had also implemented to quell the unrest. The Santa Monica Freeway was shut down around 2 p.m.

The Los Angeles Police Department was assisting Santa Monica police to contain the crowd, Fox 11 reported.

The protest followed several nights of unrest across the U.S. sparked by the death Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes.

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Peaceful protests involving tens of thousands of people on Saturday gave way, in some places, to violence, with police vehicles torched, stores emptied and objects hurled at officers. The police response varied from restrained to aggressive, with officers at times firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

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Police and peaceful protesters alike pleaded for a stop to violence, saying it weakened calls for justice and reform.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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