National Guard called to LA as protests descend into chaos

America is tonight on the brink, with scenes of utter chaos playing out across the country from Los Angeles to New York as tens of thousands of people take to the streets with fury.Violent protests over the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer show no signs of easing, with the Californian city the latest to be hit by rioting and widespread property destruction.
President Donald Trump has repeated his warning to send in the military if order isn’t restored and city leaders across the United States are pleading for calm.
But those pleas are falling on deaf ears, with huge crowds of people tearing through LA. Police there have fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, some of whom have set fire to police cars, looted shops and overrun malls.
Rioters set fire to an LA Police Department kiosk, while the flagship Adidas store on Melrose Ave was one of several retail outlets to be ransacked.
A group of people made their way along the famous shopping strip, home to boutiques and specialty stores, breaking storefront windows and causing destruction along the way.
Gucci and Altivo were targeted, as was a watch store and a nail salon, while vision showed several people tearing into an ATM.
Dozens of cars – including police patrol vehicles – have been smashed and graffitied with messages like “kill cops” and “Nazi cops”.
One of the protesters told Channel 9 that burning police cars was in retaliation to aggression and the use of rubber bullets from officers on the ground.
“The police came out here, we were quiet and peaceful, and they used aggressive force, pushing people and knocking people out, and then they start shooting, and they want us to keep peaceful and keep calm, after all what you guys have done,” she said.
“We were walking on the streets, cars were honking, and then the police came with aggressive force. That’s what made us retaliate to the guns and hitting us with batons.”
A curfew has been put in place and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked for the National Guard to step in.
The LA Times reports thousands of people at Pan Pacific Park off Beverly Boulevard chanted “defund police” and “prosecute killer cops”, and waved signs at a rally organised by Black Lives Matter and social justice group BLD PWR.
The rally’s speakers called for fewer public dollars for police departments and for schools and prisons to be overhauled.
“We’re living in the middle of an uprising,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told the group. “Let’s be clear: We are in an uprising for black life.”
This is the fourth night of unrest in the city, but by far the worst. The Los Angeles Police Department said more than 530 people were arrested during demonstrations on Friday night.
Mr Garcetti has expanded the curfew to the entire city, which will be in place from 8pm to 5.30am. Residents were sent public safety alerts on their mobile phones informing them of the curfew.
“Whether you wear a badge or whether you hold a sign, I’m asking all of Los Angeles to take a deep breath and step back for a moment,” Mr Garcetti said.
“To allow our firefighters to put out the flames. To allow our peace officers to re-establish some order. And, to let them protect your rights to be out there.”
The protests come as the city recorded its largest single day jump in coronavirus cases, confirming another 2112 cases and 48 deaths.
Mr Garcetti said the city needed to make sure that the protests didn’t become “superspreader events” for COVID-19.
“It is not a reason to not protest. We want to find peaceful ways for people to do that,” he said.
Police have charged people with burglary, looting, probation violation, battery on police officer, attempt murder and failure to disperse.
“The Los Angeles Police Department continues to assess the full extent of property damage from last night’s protest activities. Several police vehicles were vandalised, and numerous downtown businesses were damaged and looted,” the LAPD said in a statement.
The statement added: “Six Los Angeles Police Officers were injured during the protests on Friday night and early Saturday morning. They sustained non-life-threatening injuries ranging from lacerations to impact wounds.”
The protests in LA are similar to increasingly volatile demonstrations seen elsewhere in the US, following the death of Mr Floyd on Monday, while being arrested by police in Minneapolis.
Footage of the arrest showed Mr Floyd repeatedly saying that he couldn’t breathe as officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old’s neck while he was pinned to the ground for almost 10 minutes.
All officers involved in the arrest have since been stood down, with Chauvin now charged with murder.
Mr Trump lashed out at protesters again today, saying the riots were “delivering new anguish and pain” to an already grieving community.
“I understand the pain that people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protesters and we hear their pleas, but what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or with peace,” he said during a speech at the Kennedy Space Center after the SpaceX launch.
“The memory of George Floyd is being dishonoured by rioters, looters, and anarchists. It’s led by Antifa, and other groups, terrorising the innocent, destroying businesses and jobs.”
The President said the main victims of the riots were “the citizens who live in these once lovely communities”.
“The mobs are devastating the life’s work of good people and destroying their dreams. Right now America needs creation, not disruption. Co-operation not contempt, security, no anarchy. And there will be no anarchy.
“Civilisation must be protected, the voices of law-abiding citizens must be heard and heard loudly.
“We cannot allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities, we must defend the rights of every citizen to live without violence, prejudice or fear.”