LOS ANGELES (AP) — National Guard troops will be pulled out of California cities where they’ve been deployed for a week after rampant violence and thievery marred the first days of protests over the death of George Floyd, officials announced Sunday.
The announcement came as peaceful demonstrations again popped up across the state, including one on horseback and another on wheels, as protesters continue to call for police reforms.
“After nearly a week assisting civil authorities on the streets of California, soldiers with the California National Guard will begin transitioning back to their home armories,” the Cal Guard said in a statement. A timeline for the pullout was not provided.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said some troops would begin departing Sunday evening.
“A small number of units will be stationed nearby until June 10 to provide emergency support if needed,” Garcetti said in a statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he’d encourage local leaders to end their use of the Guard “in an expeditious manner, but a very thoughtful manner.”
More than 7,000 National Guard troops were deployed to LA, San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities to assist local law enforcement, Cal Guard said. While the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and hundreds of businesses were vandalized.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
The Compton Cowboys, a group of mostly African American horse enthusiasts, wore boots and ten-gallon hats during a “ride for peace” Sunday through urban neighborhoods south of Los Angeles. Their procession was was followed by hundreds of marchers on foot.
“This is the equestrian nation, and all of us came out here to show our unity, ” said Todd Lavegne, who had on leather chaps and rode his horse April. “We want to join the movement and say that black lives matter.”
Classic car fans planned a driving protest in East Los Angeles. Meanwhile motorists honked as a small crowd waved signs in the sleepy foothill suburb of La Canada Flintridge north of Los Angeles. Southern California marches were also expected in Hollywood, Glendale and San Diego.
To the north in Oakland, a group of protesters streamed onto a freeway on-ramp and momentarily faced off with officers as they sought to halt traffic on Interstate 880. They backed off peacefully after demonstrating for several minutes. In another part of town, volunteers painted “Black Lives Matters” in giant yellow letters in the middle of a downtown road, similar to a massive mural painted on a street in Washington, D.C. Nearby, several hundred families pushed strollers and carried signs as they marched in a child-friendly march around Lake Merritt.
A similar march for children and their parents was held across the bay in San Francisco.
A few thousand people flooded the streets along San Francisco’s Marina on Sunday afternoon.
In Sacramento, Warren Stanley, the California Highway Patrol’s first African American commissioner, waded into a crowd Saturday at the state Capitol, defusing tensions after telling protesters that Floyd’s death was “totally unacceptable.”
On Saturday, Sacramento halted a nightly curfew that began Monday and ended its use of National Guard troops who had been deployed to aid law enforcement after many buildings in the city’s downtown were damaged a week ago.
The Sacramento Police Department announced its officers would stop using carotid holds that stop blood flow to the brain. On Friday, the governor called for outlawing the hold.
It was the latest local government to ease or end curfews that resulted in the arrests of thousands of demonstrators.
Brian Marvel, president of the rank-and-file Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents more than 77,000 individuals and 930 associations, on Saturday called for a national police use of force standard patterned after a pair of new California laws that were spurred in part by Stephon Clark’s death in 2018 after he was shot in Sacramento by police officers.
Police can’t operate without community trust, he said. Marvel said that is why the U.S. needs a national standard “to mandate that all peace officers have a duty to intercede, to raise the bar for use of force training standards for all peace officers.”
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