Violent protests have spread to Los Angeles in California as protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd intensify across the US.
Reports have emerged of looting of major businesses in the city’s shopping precinct with rioters attacking police vehicles and forcing officers to retreat.
Violent protests have now spread to 19 cities in the US, including Minneapolis, Portland, Dallas, Memphis, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Louisville, Kansas City, Detroit, Columbus, New York, Washington, San Jose, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston.
In Los Angeles, protests have mostly been peaceful but CNN tonight reported looting and violence was taking place in downtown LA. Videos showed protesters running through the streets and fighting with officers as fireworks exploded among the crowds.
Demonstrators smashed through the windows of two patrolling California Highway Patrol cars as hundreds of people blocked the Hollywood 101 Freeway earlier on Friday, according to NBC.
Other protesters who’d gathered outside the Los Angeles Police Department surrounded a police squad.
The police headquarters was vandalised with anti police messages.
The LAPD said they were on alert as protesters became increasingly aggressive on Friday. They declared the protests an unlawful assembly, urging locals to stay inside their homes.
“While the vast majority of individuals in Los Angeles have expressed those views in a peaceful manner, we have witnessed an increasing level of violence and property damage committed by small number of detractors,” the LAPD said in a statement on Friday.
“The violence involved dangerous projectiles directed at our people as well as some property damage to businesses in the area.
“While isolated, if left unchallenged we face the potential of those actions expanding and hurting innocent individuals.”
In Atlanta, a disturbing video shared online showed what appeared to be children in military gear armed with guns.
As unrest continues to spread, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of unarmed African-American man George Floyd sparked widespread protests.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders.
Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorised to discuss the preparations.