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Downtown Charleston businesses left damaged after Saturday protests turn destructive

Groups gathered peacefully most of the day

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Peaceful protests in Charleston on Saturday turned destructive late into the night, leaving shattered windows, pillaged shelves and questions over what will happen Sunday evening.

A crowd of hundreds gathered most of the day across the Charleston peninsula with only minor incidents reported, police said Saturday evening. The groups were rallying to protest the injustice of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. last week at the hands of a city police officer who kneeled on his neck for eight minutes. Floyd's death is the latest instance of violence against black Americans by law enforcement across the nation. But as night fell in Charleston, rioters threw bricks, rocks and furniture through windows along King Street north of Calhoun Street. Police formed a human barricade along King Street near Hutson Alley, firing tear gas, attempting to disperse crowds vandalizing storefronts around 10 p.m. when a countywide curfew took effect.
Peaceful protests for George Floyd on Saturday turned destructive in the evening - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Peaceful protests for George Floyd on Saturday turned destructive in the evening
At least two shoe stores downtown were looted Saturday night - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • At least two shoe stores downtown were looted Saturday night
Few businesses were untouched along the commercial corridor, but some sustained cracked windows and graffiti, minor in comparison to at least two fires set inside businesses.

Restaurant owners reported the rioters breaking windows and looting cash registers as customers were dining inside, forcing hurried evacuations through back doors.

On Sunday morning, police Chief Luther Reynolds estimated the department made about 10 arrests Saturday. "We're going to continue to follow up and make arrests. We're not done," he said.



By midday Sunday, businesses were being preemptively boarded up in anticipation of further protests when night falls.

Charleston officials have enacted a 6 p.m. curfew for the peninsula on Sunday night.
Papers were still smoldering Sunday morning after rioters set a small fire inside A&E Printing on Saturday night - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Papers were still smoldering Sunday morning after rioters set a small fire inside A&E Printing on Saturday night
Furniture inside West Elm was set on fire during Saturday night riots - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Furniture inside West Elm was set on fire during Saturday night riots
SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence

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