SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Dozens of people were arrested in San Francisco Sunday after thousands of boisterous yet mostly peaceful demonstrators marched along multiple routes Sunday afternoon to protest the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.
San Francisco police arrested about 80 people who were demonstrating Sunday night past a curfew established in several Bay Area cities because of the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
Police Cmdr. Teresa Ewins said a group of people were arrested walking along Market and 2nd Streets after 8 p.m.; at least five of them were throwing what she described as Molotov cocktails. Other explosive devices were also found in the possession of some of the protesters and at least one handgun was seized, police said.
“There was a huge explosion and fire came out of a tube because they threw something in that,” Ewins said. “There were about four more explosions … we’re still investigating it. We’re not really sure, but we have a backpack with items in it, possibly fireworks, and also M80s or Molotov cocktails.”
Just after 8 p.m. at City Hall, police officers told a crowd of several hundred demonstrators that they were in violation of the curfew. They told the crowd they were in an unlawful assembly and were subject to arrest.
Some water bottles flew through the air at police, but otherwise there were no major confrontations. By 8:30, that crowd scattered, but not before police began making arrests.
Police say most of the demonstrators will probably escape jail. They will likely be given citations for violating the curfew and then released.
“Demonstrations in San Francisco were overwhelmingly orderly and peaceful today, and SFPD officers were proud to help facilitate these in a way that protected the First Amendment rights and safety of all who took part,” read a statement from Police Chief Bill Scott.
A few hundred people gathered at City Hall around 3 p.m. and the crowd grew as it dispersed into several marches. One group headed toward the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street, another marched along Market Street to the Embarcadero before rejoining the Hall of Justice crowd as both groups met on Bryant Street at Third Street.
By 5:30 p.m. a large contingent was gathering at Union Square where, on Saturday night, luxury retail stores including Saks 5th Avenue and Cartier suffered major losses and damage by looters, some brandishing crowbars, who smashed windows and scrambled from store to store wreaking devastating losses.
By 6 p.m. many of the remaining protesters were back in front of City Hall and, as a citywide curfew began at 8 p.m., a few dozen were still standing at the steps, facing off against dozens of SFPD officers.
At that time police declared an unlawful assembly and by 9 p.m., several people had been arrested, police said. Most of the crowd had dispersed by then.
The curfew is an added weapon in the city’s efforts to minimize the trouble that left Union Square and surrounding areas downtown with serious damage suffered by 25 to 30 stores which were broken into and looted Saturday night.
“At this challenging time for our City and our nation, we are committed to public safety, and we will not tolerate continued rioting, looting or vandalism that threatens it,” said Chief Scott in his statement. “On behalf of all of us in the San Francisco Police Department, we are grateful to the overwhelming majority of San Franciscans who’ve abided by the curfew order and in doing so greatly aided our ability to keep our City safe.”
Joe Vazquez contributed to this report.