The violent unrest gripping the nation spread Saturday night to a suburb of San Diego, where rioters burned two banks to the ground, looting and destroying many other businesses.
Peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis turned into riots as night fell on La Mesa, a suburb of about 60,000 people east of San Diego, leaving a trail of destruction.
They torched the Chase and Union banks next door to each other, Fox 5 reported. Images showed the fire engulfing one bank, leaving behind a gutted skeleton of lumber and twisted metal by morning.
Windows were smashed at many businesses, including a Goodwill store, a real-estate office and a popular bar.
Daniel Buxton, the owner of Play It Again Sports, said he returned to his establishment to find “complete destruction.”
“Took what they could, destroyed what they could and got out,” he told local station KPBS. He added that looters used bats to destroy the inside and lit a fire which the sprinklers had doused.
Video of looters busting through glass windows and raiding a Walmart after midnight at the Grossmont Center in La Mesa was captured by KNSD.
San Diego police officers, aided by other law enforcement agencies, walked shoulder-to-shoulder through the streets after 2 a.m. Sunday, telling hundreds of protesters and observers that they would be arrested for unlawful assembly if they didn’t disperse.
“I think people are hurting and they’re angry and they’re trying to be heard because there’s no other way to get anyone’s attention,”
Ally Kaiahua, a white woman, told The Associated Press about the property damage in La Mesa. “It’s unfortunate but this has been part of our history and how things get done because they don’t listen any other way.”
After the curfew lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday morning, volunteers began coming out to help clean up the destruction in La Mesa.
Many carried trash bags and brooms, while others painted vandalized property, local news outlets reported.
“It was overwhelming to see this community come together,” Aaron Henderson, owner of a looted coffee shop, told KNSD.