SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Nearly two-thirds of properties in Sacramento’s business district were damaged over the weekend following three consecutive nights of protests over the killing of George Floyd.
The state Senate on Monday canceled all of its scheduled meetings and ordered lawmakers and staff not to enter the state Capitol. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration ordered all state government offices in downtown areas to close and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he was considering asking Newsom to send in the National Guard.
Steinberg also said he would also ask the City Council to approve a curfew starting at either 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.
“It is not foolproof, because we have seen in other communities throughout the country it has had mixed results,” Steinberg told reporters. “But we should take every step that is reasonable to keep our community safe.”
The Downtown Sacramento Partnership tallied more than 200 broken windows, 330 pieces of graffiti and more than 50 cases of what it deemed “significant property damage” in the 66 square blocks that comprise the city’s central district. The district’s 430 retail businesses bore the brunt of the damage, but office buildings and some residential properties were also impacted.
The city’s resurgent downtown has been benefiting from an influx of new development. The anchor has been the Golden 1 Center, the arena for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings that opened in 2016 and has helped shed the city’s reputation as a “cow town.”
Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said most of the damage was for small businesses that are already struggling from the economic fallout of the coronavirus.
“Their ability to survive this long-term has got to be a question mark for them. It breaks your heart,” he said. “We had such incredible momentum downtown that this will take a while to come back from.”
Floyd died last Monday in Minneapolis after a police officer put his knee on his neck for several minutes. It was one of a number of deaths in recent years of black men and women involving the police.
Floyd’s death has prompted nationwide protests. Most were peaceful, demanding justice for Floyd and raising awareness about larger problems of racism. But many demonstrations in major cities led to widespread vandalism and violence.
In California, most major cities imposed curfews on Saturday and Sunday. But Sacramento did not. Sunday night, protesters shattered windows in stores and cars while spray-painting graffiti. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at those who ignored orders to leave.
About 150 volunteers were fanning out across the city Monday to clean up, Ault said. One of them was 35-year-old Sarah Wolf, a 17-year who walked about 11 blocks with a bucket and mop. “There are actually so many volunteers we haven’t been able to do anything” yet, she said.