San Diego police arrest more than 90 after clashes, looting downtown

Police faced off with a crowd of protesters in downtown San Diego late Sunday evening. Officers made more than 90 arrests late Sunday and early Monday.
(OnScene TV)

San Diego police arrested 94 people into jail on charges ranging from failure to disperse, assaulting officers, burglary and vandalism


More than 90 people were arrested by San Diego police late Sunday and early Monday— on charges such as failing to disperse and assaulting officers — as a daylong protest over police violence ended with stores being looted and vandals breaking windows and spray painting buildings in the downtown area.

Some 94 people were arrested, San Diego police Chief David Nisleit said late Monday afternoon. He said 22 of them were from outside the city, including 7 from out of state.

San Diego police earlier said on Twitter that more than 100 people had been booked into jail after violent flare ups were reported late into the evening. Among the stores looted was a CVS, a 7-Eleven store and an AT&T store, police said.

After a weekend of protests around the state, all state buildings with offices in downtown areas were closed, a sweeping mandate that covered everything from Department of Motor Vehicles offices to those that license workers and provide health care.

“After consultation with the California Highway Patrol and Office of Emergency Services, the decision was made this evening to advise all state departments with offices in downtown city areas to close tomorrow, and to notify staff of the decision,” said Amy Palmer, a spokeswoman for the state Government Operations Agency.

The directive was sent Sunday evening and it was left up to officials at the agencies to determine which buildings should be closed.

A state Department of Justice memo sent to employees said the attorney general’s offices in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego would be closed, though employees who can work from home should do so.

The window of a coffee business was damaged late Sunday evening in downtown San Diego.
The window of a coffee business was damaged late Sunday evening in downtown San Diego.

(Andrea Lopez-Villafaña / The San Diego Union-Tribune


San Diego police began reporting on Twitter after 10 p.m. that they were encountering acts of violence and vandalism. Officers tried to clear an area near Pacific Highway and Broadway for being an unlawful assembly.

Over the next several hours, officers reported rocks were being thrown at officers and patrol cars, and vandals were breaking windows.

“Peaceful demonstrations will be facilitated. Violent & destructive acts will be addressed,” police said on Twitter.

The vandalism and looting came after hundreds of people gathered in downtown San Diego to protest on Sunday over the killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes, and many other incidents involving police killings of black people.

Sights and sounds from the protest in downtown San Diego on Sunday, May 31.

Marchers at one point shut down traffic on Interstate 5.

At times, protesters had tense standoffs with officers, who occasionally fired tear gas, flashbangs and less-lethal ammunition to try to maintain control. Around 6 p.m., much of the group marched to the County Administration Building, where an estimated 1,000 people held a moment of silence for more than six minutes.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer took to Twitter early Monday to say looters and rioters would not be allowed to hijack peaceful protests.

“Peaceful protesters march because they care about our community, justice, and accountability. Looters and rioters do not,” the mayor tweeted. “We won’t stand for anyone hijacking this moment to perpetuate violence. The city will keep working to maintain order.”

The arrests in San Diego early Monday came after a weekend of demonstrations in the region and across the country.

Downtown San Diego cleanup
Volunteers Susan Friedgen, left, Bailey Starr, center, and Rahmin Buckman, right, clean up broken glass and remove graffiti at a business on the corner of Fifth and C St. in downtown San Diego on Monday, June 1, 2020. Downtown businesses were vandalized during protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
(Denis Poroy / For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Protesters took to the streets of La Mesa Saturday afternoon, at one point walking onto Interstate 8 and closing down the freeway.

Demonstrators gathered outside the La Mesa police headquarters and some people launched rocks and water bottles at police vehicles. Officers in riot gear deployed flash-bangs and shot chemical irritants and beanbag projectiles in response, both near the department headquarters and later as crowds roamed the downtown area.

The tone dramatically changed after the sun went down, with looters hitting stores in Grossmont Center and in downtown and setting fires that destroying vehicles and several buildings.

Some people were injured as police fired off less-lethal weapons, including a woman who was shot in the head with a beanbag projectile and a teenage boy hit in the head with a police projectile while driving a car.

The teen said the police officer was about eight feet away when he fired. The boy said he was treated and released from a local hospital.

The granddaughter of the woman who was injured set up a GoFundMe account, which had raised more than $40,000 as of Monday morning. “Leslie has come out of the coma. She is still placed on a breathing machine and has responded to some commands,” Malaysia Furcron wrote on the site.

In response to the vandalism and looting, a large group of volunteers showed up in downtown La Mesa and worked to clean up streets and businesses that had been damaged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


8:26 a.m. June 1, 2020: This story was updated with additional information about state offices being closed.

6:56 p.m. June 1, 2020: This story was updated with information from San Diego police Chief David Nisleit.

10:43 a.m. June 1, 2020: This story was updated with additional details.

10:34 a.m. June 1, 2020: This story was updated with additional details.