Looters in Los Angeles explained their motivation to the city’s main newspaper why they’ve decided to smash store windows and steal merchandise, which threatens to overshadow the peaceful protests taking place across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd.
“We’re doing it because we can,” said one man, who identified himself as a looter to the Los Angeles Times. The paper interviewed a teen at another location who reportedly took a backpack.
“We’re just trying to provide and take up the opportunity that we are getting right now,” the teen said. “That’s all.”
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The paper reported that police believe that most of the city’s looting is being committed by those with no connection to protests and simply see an opportunity to steal. At least 11 people were killed in protests for Floyd across the country and cities like New York and Minneapolis have been ransacked.
The paper reported that Los Angeles has been hit hard by the unrest, including hundreds of stores. The reports said that some of the lootings have been strategic and carried out by so-called caravans that block streets with their cars and then used in the getaway.
“Protesting peacefully? We did that in the ‘60s,” a young man with a black mask told the paper. “That didn’t get us nowhere.”
The reaction in cities to some of the unrest has been criticized by President Trump, who said the police response has been too soft. He told governors in a conference call earlier this week, “You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been under fire from protesters and police in the city. He recently announced that the city was going to cut up to $150 million from police and earmark those funds to help the disadvantaged communities.
Garcetti was criticized by the police union for telling the First African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday that the cuts are a start. “It starts someplace, and we say we are going to be who we want to be, or we’re going to continue being the killers that we are.”
The Los Angeles Daily News reported that Jamie McBride, an LAPD detective who serves on the union’s board of directors, called Garcetti unstable. McBride said Garcetti’s remarks “smeared every single police officer in Los Angeles and across the nation by calling us killers.”