Dozens of people protested in Santa Monica Sunday following several days of demonstrations in Los Angeles over the killing of George Floyd. (Matthew Hall)
Protesters knelt by the pier Sunday afternoon. (Matthew Hall)

This story was updated May 31 at 9:33 p.m.

Hundreds of people held a protest in downtown Santa Monica early Sunday afternoon following several days of protests across the country calling for justice for George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

Protesters gathered several hours after Santa Monica lifted its curfew, which officials put into effect from 8 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday after protesters clashed with police and looted stores in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The protest followed peaceful demonstrations in Santa Monica and Venice on Thursday and Friday. Demonstrators held signs saying “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe” and “Evil prevails when good people do nothing.”

Protester Geraldine Middleton, who has three black sons, said she wants the protests over Floyd’s death to bring about systemic change. She urged allies participating in the protests to work toward justice in their own communities following the protests.

“What I want to see is folks that come out to things like this make changes in their circles, where it’s not as comfortable for you to have the same determination and realization that black lives matter,” Middleton said.

At about noon Sunday, protesters peacefully gathered in Palisades Park and at 12:30 p.m. took a knee by the pier to protest Floyd’s killing.

After 1 p.m., protesters began marching up Ocean Avenue and turned onto Montana Avenue, where police prevented them from moving further east. Smaller groups of protesters continued up Montana and back toward the Santa Monica Pier.

A group of looters started breaking into downtown stores and the Santa Monica Place mall after 2 p.m., and police set up a perimeter around the Third Street Promenade. A protester tried to prevent looters from breaking into a downtown REI Co-op.

As the looting escalated, hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully near the pier and smaller groups continued to protest in a few other areas downtown.

After the looting began, officials issued a 4 p.m. curfew, closed all 10 Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway off-ramps into Santa Monica and halted the Metro E line at the 26th Street station. Los Angeles County issued a 6 p.m. curfew throughout all areas of the county.

Emergency responders are exempt from the 4 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. curfew, as are those traveling to and from work or seeking or giving emergency care.

The Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Culver City police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, were out in force Sunday afternoon with armored vehicles and flash grenades.

After 3 p.m., police declared two groups of peaceful protesters on Ocean Avenue an unlawful assembly and used teargas on them in an attempt to get them to leave.

After the 4 p.m. curfew began, police stood in skirmish lines in front of the protesters but had not yet started making arrests. By 4:10 p.m., protesters began throwing rocks and firecrackers at police and officers started firing rubber bullets and throwing smoke grenades into the crowd.

At about 4:30 p.m., more than 100 protesters clustered behind a makeshift barricade near the pier made out of wooden boards from a nearby construction site. Police, who were still standing in a skirmish line several hundred feet away, shot rubber bullets toward the barricade.

Protesters moved south down Ocean Avenue and along Main Street after police shot tear gas at the barricade. Police fired less-than-lethal ammunition at protesters who entered an empty building next to the pier.

Some protesters split from the group moving down Main Street and shattered the front door of the Santa Monica Courthouse.

A little after 5 p.m., most looters still active in downtown Santa Monica had moved north to Lincoln Boulevard and began taking goods from a Vons grocery store.

The Santa Monica Fire Department reported four structure fires downtown after 5 p.m. Three police cars in a parking lot next to the Santa Monica Civic Center and a dumpster were also set on fire. Officials said firefighters had extinguished all fires by 7 p.m.

Santa Monica officials asked protesters during a press conference at 5:30 p.m. to go home.

“The Santa Monica Police Department is here to support peaceful protest, but we will not stand for civil unrest and criminal behavior,” said Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud. “There is a curfew in place. We are asking you to go home, and those who don’t, we will begin notifying you and making arrests for the curfew violation.”

Renaud said in a statement Saturday that the officers responsible for Floyd’s death are directly in conflict with the oath police officers have taken, which is to protect and serve. She said the department encourages discussion to promote freedom of speech, transparency and to preserve the trust the department has developed with the community.

“The Santa Monica Police Department feels the strong emotions and concerns that are being voiced and displayed countrywide,” Renaud said. “We share these emotions. While the death of George Floyd occurred more than 1,900 miles away, the actions of every sworn officer have the potential to tarnish the badge many of us hold dear.”

By 6 p.m., officers were herding a group of roughly 30 protesters at 4th Street and Broadway east on Broadway. Officers detained nearly 20 protesters shortly before 7 p.m., who told CBS News that they had been trying to leave the area and were blocked by police.

Renaud, the SMPD chief, said at a 7 p.m. press conference that the department was arresting both protesters who had stayed out after curfew and looters. She said the National Guard is on its way and will be stationed in front of Santa Monica City Hall.

Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’Day said at the press conference that Santa Monica stands against racial injustice and welcomes peaceful protest, but denounced the looting and asked everyone still on the street in the city to go home.

“We welcomed peaceful protesters into our town this morning and they were, by and large, very peaceful,” O’Day said. “The second story happening in this city is one of looting and crime, and that is now going to end.”

By 9 p.m., Renaud said police had made hundreds of arrests and that no officers had been injured during the protest.


Join the Conversation


  1. Businesses that were looted must sue the city of Santa Monica. Many of us watched the police allow this looting. The Democratic Party and the City of Los Angeles and Santa Monica promote this hatred and violence. They need to be charged with sedition. The government agrees with the violent people over the taxpayers. They must be held accountable for this The government here is the enemy of law abiding taxpayers.

  2. Black lives do matter.
    Looters, no matter the color of their skin nor the depth of their anger, achieve nothing. They serve only themselves and undermine the legitimate message of protest.

  3. Black Street criminals have been made to feel welcome in Santa Monica for a long time. And now they’re taking over your city. How sad.


  5. Santa Monica Police chief Renaud lies and lies. She says the police support peaceful protest but won’t stand for criminal behavior but the exact opposite happened. Her police arrested peaceful protesters while doing nothing to the criminals running rampant and destroying and looting and setting fires. I watched it with my own eyes as police were non-existent where they were sorely needed. She should be fired!!!! The police were useless!!!!! Their performance was criminal.

  6. And by the way, Terry O’Day is as useless and goofy and incompetent as the police and their chief, Renaud.

  7. Santa Monica Police and its chief, Cynthia Renaud, are a disgrace to this community. They have no business exhorting the salary they give themselves for the incompetence they put on display. Chief Renaud should resign but since she doesn’t have the integrity to do so, she should be fired!!!

  8. Chief Cynthia Renaud failed our city on Sunday. As a 35-year SM resident, I’ve found the SMPD found to be marginally responsive at best on a good day, with a general disinterest in serving ordinary citizens as their default setting.

    Not surprisingly, they were totally unprepared for the crime and devastation that occurred Sunday afternoon, despite widely-reported social media posts exposing looters’ plans to pillage Santa Monica on Sunday. Force deployment was a joke; dozens of officers from multiple agencies were keeping watch over a couple hundred peaceful protesters, as roving gangs of hundreds of (mostly out-of-area, as the social media posts indicated) criminal opportunists of ALL races wreaked havoc on our downtown less than three blocks away, unencumbered by law enforcement for SEVERAL HOURS, free to steal, loot, plunder and destroy our city as they wish.

    Chief Renaud failed miserably and expensively and very pubilcly.

    She has clearly and forcefully demonstrated that she is absolutely incapable of keeping our city’s residents and businesses safe when we need them most.

    Santa Monica deserves competent leadership, especially for the incomprehensibly huge salaries the city throws at those who sit at the top levels of our government.

    I’m beyond disgusted by what I saw.

    She must resign or be fired immediately.

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