Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud is facing calls to resign after local television footage showed officers standing idly by as looters ransacked more than 80 stores in the city’s downtown area.
A petition posted to Change.org to remove the California chief had received more than 8,000 signatures by 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the Santa Monica Lookout. Its creator, Oliver Greene, said officers lacked the “strong leadership and overarching strategy to protect themselves, our city, and its citizens.”
What began as a peaceful protest in Santa Monica on Sunday over the death of George Floyd descended into violence and some people began looting businesses, including banks, chain stores and smaller mom-and-pop shops and restaurants.
Live broadcasts showed officers watching as people ransacked stores and emptied shelves. Though more than 400 people have been taken into custody on charges like looting, violating curfew, burglary and assault, those arrests did not come until after the businesses were destroyed.
Renaud has said 95 percent of those arrested for looting did not live in Santa Monica, WABC reported.
“Many of us have witnessed firsthand the deterioration of the Santa Monica police force’s ability to maintain order and decency on our streets over the last few years — from record numbers of burglaries and violent crimes to willfully allowing rampant vagrancy,” Greene wrote.
“After seeing the widespread looting and vandalism of our city and local businesses, we can do better,” the petition continued. “After seeing our brave law enforcement officers stand by without strong leadership or overarching strategy to protect themselves, our city, and its citizens, we have to do better.
“After seeing SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud conduct a blundering press conference that was completely misaligned with the current realities, we must do better,” it said. “We need and deserve strong, resounding leadership in Santa Monica’s police force, particularly during today’s volatile times. SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud has proven incapable of responding to that call effectively. For the sake of our community and public safety, we need to remove Cynthia Renaud from her position immediately.”
Video showed people ransacked an Amazon truck in Santa Monica. One business owner was hospitalized after he was attacked trying to defend his business on 7th and Broadway, Fox 11 reported. Another woman holding a sign that read “End All Violence” in front of a storefront said looters tossed her aside to raid the store she was protecting.
Business’ windows in Santa Monica Monday morning were seen broken and its walls sprayed with graffiti reading, “Save a Life, Kill a Cop.” Several officers were injured during the riots Sunday, including one who fractured his skull after being hit in the head by a brick.
"Sunday was one of the most distressing days in Santa Monica history,” Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown said in a statement issued on Monday. “We know better than to let the looters obscure the message of the protesters, who have indeed been heard. What a small and selfish criminal element has done instead is to bring our community more closely together. We will support our local businesses to recover from this. Much was lost on Sunday, including property and innocence. As Mayor, I'm grateful that we did not lose any lives."
Santa Monica enacted a 4 p.m. curfew Sunday until 5:30 a.m. Monday — up from the 8 p.m. curfew in surrounding areas. By Monday, the curfew had been bumped up to 1 p.m. as authorities worked to get a handle on the civil unrest.