VALLEJO (CBS SF/AP) — It cost nearly $25 million for the state to deploy 8,000 National Guard soldiers to Vallejo and other California cities to assist police during protests over racial injustice inspired by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
National Guard troops patrolled the streets of Vallejo last week, joining the effort to end nights of violence and looting in the wake of Floyd’s death.READ MORE: COVID: Gov. Gavin Newsom Says Omicron Variant In California Won't Spark Another Shutdown
Three straight night of lawlessness raged throughout the city. Police responded to dozens of call reporting looting and burglaries. Officers were also involved in as many as 15 police pursuits of suspects trying to evade capture.
On June 2, amid the outbreak of violence, the state deployed a force of some 50 National Guardsmen to join Vallejo police, Solano County sheriff deputies and officers from neighboring cities on the streets in an effort to bring an end to the outbreak of violence.
In the days since, calm has been restored and the National Guard troops have headed home.
Elsewhere, most of the money — more than $18 million — was spent on deploying troops in Los Angeles County, where the guard deployed 5,500 troops to protect buildings and other infrastructure.
Because Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County, the state can pay for the $18 million spent there by taking money from an account set aside specifically for disaster response. On Thursday, the Department of Finance sent a letter to state lawmakers saying the deployment was necessary “to mitigate civil unrest in Los Angeles City and County.”
The California Military Department has asked for the rest of the money be covered as an “emergency expense,” defined as money spent “in response to conditions of disaster or extreme peril that threaten the immediate health or safety of persons or property in the state.”
“That is a gross waste of money that could be going to schools, to mental health, to testing and health care or people,” said Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project. “It’s egregious that that was the choice that was made.”
A memo from Col. Craig Sandman with the California Army National Guard said the California Military Department will run out of money if the state doesn’t step in.READ MORE: UCSF Lab Worked Quickly To Confirm San Francisco's Omicron Case
“In extraordinary times that are becoming more commonplace, the CMD provides support to other state agencies and/or local authorities as they address wildfires, earthquakes, floods, and most recently, civil disturbances,” he said. “In all of these dire events, the CMD has to spend its limited operating cash to accomplish its assigned missions.”
Floyd, who was black, died on Memorial Day in Minneapolis after a white police officer put his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground. Video of the incident spread rapidly on social media and prompted protests around the globe over racial injustice.
Most protests throughout California were peaceful, but many cities were damaged as people smashed windows and spray-painted graffiti on hundreds of businesses and stole from stores. The demonstrations led to curfews in most major cities. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, causing injuries.
“I don’t consider breaking windows violent. That’s property damage. Violence is putting a knee on someone’s neck for eight minutes,” Brooks said.
City officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, asked Newsom to deploy the National Guard to assist police. Troops arrived in Los Angeles on May 29 and elsewhere in the state on June 2. Most had been recalled by Wednesday, although a few were expected to stay in place through Monday.
Soldiers did not interact much with protesters, instead being used to guard buildings and other infrastructure. In Sacramento, armed soldiers were stationed in front of the state Attorney General’s Office while armored vehicles were stationed near the Golden One Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Troops also used concrete barriers to close an on-ramp to Interstate 5 to keep protesters from blocking traffic.
Police arrested more than 3,000 people in Los Angeles alone, with about 2,500 of those for violating curfew or dispersal orders. Monday, prosecutors announced thousands would not be charged with a crime.MORE NEWS: SFUSD Superintendent Proposes Continuing Choice-Based Admissions For Lowell HS After Court Ruling
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