Two large protests in Anaheim, with nearly a thousand ralliers on late Monday afternoon, stretched throughout local streets, parks and city hall, with demonstrators vocally objecting to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, joining a national movement of protests that have also witnessed looting and riots across the nation over the past week.
It’s the third day of protests across Orange County cities with minor disturbances in Santa Ana last Saturday.
“I can’t breathe,” was the dominant chant of nearly a thousand protesters marching at Anaheim’s La Palma Park, repeating the last words of Floyd before a police officer choked him to death.
On the corner of La Palma Ave and Harbor Boulevard, on Monday afternoon, a continuous flow of people were pouring in as of 5 p.m. amidst a series of chants and car horns.
Anaheim officials set a 6 p.m. curfew for Monday, which was announced before any protests began.
While marchers were peaceful they were also visibly angry.
A large group of protesters left a main rally at La Palma Park around 5 p.m. and headed down Harbor Boulevard toward city hall.
Protesters met up in front of city hall and poured onto Anaheim Boulevard after leaving La Palma Park.
Numerous Anaheim police officers blocked off the boarded up city hall, while many demonstrators took a knee and raised their hands in protest.
Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies stood directly across the street from city hall and blocked Center Street Promenade, where businesses like banks and restaurants were boarded up.
At about 5:50 p.m., the demonstrators began marching down the street back to the park, with many urging each other not to vandalize or tag anything.
“We are educated — we are smart, don’t tag shit or break anything!” one protester yelled through a megaphone.
Some plywood boards covering business windows were tagged, according to social media posts from Anaheim officials.
Scores of motorcycle officers were seen riding by Pearson Park after the demonstrators began marching back down Anaheim Boulevard.
Anaheim City spokesman Mike Lyster said an unlawful assembly was declared around 7:15 p.m.
Around that time, some people threw fireworks at some Anaheim police officers, according to a Tweet from Anaheim.
According to the Tweets from the city, there were about 100 people left in the area as of roughly 8:15 p.m.
During the day, there were no arrests, Lyster said, but that started to change in the later hours with Lyster confirming by 9 p.m. that there had been several arrests made but it remained unclear how many.
On Tuesday morning, Lyster said 25 people were arrested Monday night. Most were arrested for failing to disperse, at 13 people. Another three were arrested on conspiracy of breaking into the boarded up Northgate Market and eight people were arrested for violating the 6 p.m. curfew.
Anaheim city hall was largely boarded up along with nearly all the downtown businesses and those near La Palma Park including the Northgate Supermarket. Many of the local businesses were all shutting down early and by around 5 p.m. the only local businesses visibly open were the Del Taco and the 7-11.
Businesses down Lincoln Avenue heading into West Anaheim were boarded up, including El Pollo Norteño, Ruby’s Diner, and a tire shop.
Roughly 20 Anaheim Police officers were gathered in front of the Chase Bank on Lincoln Avenue and Harbor Boulevard was boarded up.
And numerous businesses in the working class West Anaheim neighborhood were closed, with some sporting signs saying they’re aligned with protestors.
The Taco Bell and Jack in the Box on Brookhurst Avenue had lines nearly to the street following the closure of nearly all other restaurants in the area because of the 6 p.m. curfew. Grocery stores and liquor stores were also closed.
Shortly after a joint statement from Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and Chief of Police Jorge Cisneros earlier in the day calling for safe protests, a 6 p.m. curfew was issued by City Manager Greg Garcia.
The curfew ends at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“It is out of an abundance of caution to allow people to peacefully express themselves up until 6 p.m. and to keep our community safe after 6 p.m.,” Lyster said in a text message earlier in the day.
Despite no protests that have happened or any planned in the city, Costa Mesa again issued a curfew Monday night, the second day in a row.
Santa Ana had a 10 p.m. curfew Sunday night lasting until Monday morning.
Anaheim saw a series of protests in 2012 after 25-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by police while apparently unarmed and fleeing by foot in a poor Latino neighborhood known as Anna Drive.
Diaz’s death in 2012, and the shooting of another young Latino man, Joel Acevedo, the next day touched off days of protests in front of city hall.