As looters began to descend on the Grove shopping mall on Saturday evening, two security guards outside the Nike store begged protesters not to enter.
“We’re one of you,” one guard said.
Several stores at the upscale shopping mall next to Farmers Market in Los Angeles were hit, including the Nordstrom. A police kiosk at the mall was set on fire but officials were able to extinguish it before it spread.
The crowd rushed into the mall after police attempted to push some of the protesters assembled near 3rd Street. As the looters entered the area, the Grove’s outdoor speakers played music — the familiar crooners the shopping mall is known for.
Over a span of 20 minutes, looters broke into stores and emerged with goods. At the Apple Store, people were seen coming out with large boxes. One man and woman took goods from the Sephora beauty products store and placed them into a suitcase.
The Nordstrom department store was ransacked by looters. A police kiosk was burned.
Some stores, including the Gap, had just opened for in-store shopping after officials recently lifted restrictions.
As police cruisers drove into the back entrance of the mall, sirens blaring, looters fled, carrying boxes of shoes and clothes with plastic hangers still attached.
Some scrambled up the hill at nearby Pan Pacific Park, throwing their loot over the fence.
Across the street, another shopping center was hit.
When a protester smashed the front window of the nearby Whole Foods on 3rd Street with a hammer, some screamed, “Don’t do that! Please!” while others cheered.
The protesters began to clash among themselves. Some who urged peace created a barricade of shopping carts around the store’s entrance to protect it, but moments later, another group jumped the barricade and broke the store’s door down.
More than three dozen officers stormed the scene from the Westside, firing rubber bullets and sending hundreds sprinting. “Stop running!” one man screamed, standing atop a car with a megaphone. “Stand as one! Say his name!”
Police and protesters were in a tense standoff near the Grove, with police shooting rubber bullets and striking demonstrators with batons. Several police cars were set on fire and other vehicles vandalized. Protesters also took over a Metro bus and climbed onto its roof to record videos of the police.
Speaking to a reporter at the Grove on Saturday evening, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said he understood people’s anger and frustration but that the city needed to pull together.
“This is not the solution,” he said, standing next to the Nordstrom store that was looted. “We haven’t given up on L.A., and L.A. shouldn’t give up on itself. We can pull around this…Policing doesn’t fix these kinds of societal problems. I need all of L.A. to step up right now and be part of the solution.”