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How South Bay police may have thwarted looting

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All was peaceful in Manhattan Beach on Tuesday, June 2nd however for a few moments there, things could have not remained the same.

About 1,000 people gathered at Manhattan Beach Pier Tuesday afternoon to demand justice for a black Minnesota man who was killed by a white police officer last week, and to protest law-enforcement policies many say discriminate against black and brown communities.

Also, for the most part, everything was calm, a stark contrast to some of the other protests that have overwhelmed the nation and Los Angeles County in the 10 days since George Floyd died when a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

While many of the protests nationwide have been peaceful, several (particularly over the weekend) became violent after nightfall, marked by clashes with the police, looting and vandalism, though demonstrations in LA County since Monday have generally had a less volatile mien.

Yet, when the Manhattan Beach protesters (mostly students and largely white, reflecting the community’s demographics) returned from their march, something had changed, police said.

The crowd was different. Some shouted expletives and derogatory statements at the police officers assigned to watch over the demonstration, said Sgt. Tim Zins, spokesperson for the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

“As (the protest) gained traction on the news,” Zins said, “I think that brought a bad element into what was a very good rally.”

But the Police Department, having spent days watching how protests in other cities quickly got out of hand, had prepared. Officials even had nearby businesses board up their windows.

Eventually, Zins said, about 50 people from the more aggressive crowd congregated in the upper south Pier parking lot. The city brought in police officers from neighboring cities and the LA County Sheriff’s Department to assist.

And around 4:30 p.m., 90 minutes before the Los Angeles County curfew went into effect, police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and ordered the group to disperse.

“We are absolutely not going to tolerate any type of looting or disorderly conduct in our city,” Zins said.

“We told them, ‘OK, you know, you’re gonna go to jail,’” Zins added. “That’s when they decided to disperse on their own and no arrests were made. Nobody was hurt, no legal action was taken and everybody went home.”

The peaceful South Bay protest contrasted with the turbulence that has marred multiple initially peaceful protests across Southern California and the nation since George Floyd, a black man, died May 25 in Minnesota when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

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