DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of protesters were arrested after a peaceful protest turned violent in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
This was the third evening of protests in downtown L.A. following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. In the video of the incident, Floyd can be heard pleading with Chauvin and saying, “I can’t breathe.”
The four officers involved with Floyd’s death were fired on Tuesday, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.
The protest started around 4 p.m. outside of the L.A. City Hall. The protesters moved throughout the city, as police blocked their path.
At around 7:30 p.m., demonstrators made it onto the northbound 110 Freeway and eventually made it onto the southbound side as well.
After holding up traffic for approximately 30 minutes, the California Highway Patrol blocked off the path and led the demonstrators off the freeway.
After roughly eight hours of protest, the streets turned into a battlefield as demonstrators clashed with the police. Six police officers were injured, according to LAPD. It is unclear how many protesters were injured.
Protesters refused to leave the streets after the LAPD declared the protests were an unlawful assembly around 9:30 p.m., which led to the majority of the arrests.
Protesters threw debris at the police, lit fires in the streets and set off fireworks in between the tall downtown skyscrapers.
Police officers shot flashbangs and bean bags as a way to disperse the crowds.
Police did not deploy tear gas, as has been the case with protests in other cities. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz deployed the state’s National Guard to Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s death, to quell demonstrations.
Some downtown L.A. businesses were looted during the protest. The looting and burglaries were not necessarily a part of the original protest, but rather people who took advantage of the situation, according to LAPD.
A total of 533 people were arrested, with suspected charges such as failure to disperse, looting and attempted murder, according to LAPD.
Last night’s events led to the highest number of arrests at a demonstration in recent L.A. history. The last mass arrest of a similar scale was when 300 protesters were arrested at an Occupy L.A. camp at City Hall in 2011, according to L.A. Times.