LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police have arrested more than 2,700 people since protests began last week, a total believed the largest of any American city.
Police Chief Michel Moore provided the figure Tuesday to the Police Commission, a civilian oversight board. He said about 2,500 of the arrests were for failure to disperse or curfew violations. The rest were for crimes including burglary, assaults on police officers and other violence.
On Monday alone, more than 1,000 people were arrested, a one-day total that far surpasses all the arrests in virtually every city since the protests began. New York City’s total on Monday was about 700.
The Los Angeles County curfew was extended to a fourth night Tuesday. Authorities credit it and the arrival of more than 1,000 National Guard troops with significantly reducing vandalism and thefts at businesses.
Meantime, Moore is under fire for comments he made Monday that rioters and thieves “capitalizing” on the demonstrations to commit crimes have the death of George Floyd “on their hands” just as much as the Minneapolis police officers who killed him.
Members of the public who called in to the virtual Police Commission meeting slammed Moore for the remarks he made during a news conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti. After Moore spoke, the mayor came back to the microphone and asked the chief to clarify his comments.
“I misspoke when I said his blood was on their hands,” Moore said. “Certainly your actions do not serve the enormity of his loss, and cannot be in his memory.”
The chief apologized again on Twitter late Monday and once more during the commission meeting.
Many of those who called in to the meeting said Moore should resign. Some described instances of police officers escalating violence at the protests by using tear gas or shooting rubber bullets into crowds.
“The LAPD needs to be torn down and rebuilt,” one caller said.
Other callers, who were not identified, claimed the police department hasn’t gained empathy for minority communities in the three decades since the Rodney King riots. They said incidents of protesters clashing with police were sadly reminiscent of scenes from April 1992 when thousands took to the streets after an all-white jury acquitted four white police officers of beating King after a traffic stop.
“I understand that there are those that are not able to accept my apology,” Moore said. “I’m hopeful that my words and deeds, as well as those in our department, will show others the genuineness of our intentions, our values and our beliefs.”
Garcetti on Tuesday defended Moore and praised the chief for correcting his statement.
“That statement is a wrong statement, that looters are the equivalent of murderers. Looting is wrong but they are not the moral equivalents. The officers who killed George Floyd are murderers. I’m glad he quickly corrected it and I’m glad that he further apologized as well,” Garcetti said.
The chief told commissioners his department’s enforcement efforts have been “to restore order, to identify those responsible for arson, vandalism, burglary and looting as well as to enforce the curfew.”
Twenty-seven LAPD officers have been injured during the protests and two hospitalized, including one who required surgery after his skull was fractured by a brick, Moore said. All were expected to recover.
Moore didn’t know how many protesters were injured. No one has been killed.
Associated Press reporters John Antczak and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.