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Police handcuff people trying to protect store from apparent looters, while suspects run away

Peaceful protests in California turn violent
Peaceful California protests overshadowed by violence and looting 01:42

Police responding to the scene of a confrontation between store owners and apparent looters in Los Angeles handcuffed those who appeared to be defending the store, according to video footage of the incident captured by a local Fox station. Police continued to handcuff the store's defenders even after a local reporter repeatedly said that the suspected looters were getting away.   

Footage from local Fox station KTTV, which aired live on television, showed several community members and apparent employees of a liquor store – some holding guns – arguing with apparent looters on the sidewalk in Van Nuys. Reporter Christina Gonzalez, who was on the scene, described seeing looters trying to break into a nearby gold store. 

Several community members and small business owners shouted at the looters, telling them to leave the area. As police cars drove by, Gonzalez and some community members tried to flag them down. 

Several police officers eventually approached the scene. But even though Gonzalez told the police the assembled crowd was "trying to stop the guys trying to loot," some officers ignored her and instead pointed guns at the group. 

The Fox camera captured police officers chasing someone down the block, but then showed other officers arguing with Gonzalez and her crew and asking them for IDs. Gonzalez repeatedly tried to direct the cops toward the alleged looters.

"Sir, they're the store owners, they're protecting from the looters," she said. "They're protecting the store! The looters went that way!"

The footage showed police officers handcuffing several people in front of the liquor store, as Gonzalez continued to tell them they had the wrong people.

"These people were protecting the store," she said.

"I don't care about them," an officer responded, pressing her for details about the suspected looters. 

"You're putting them in handcuffs," Gonzalez said. "What happened is, these people work at the liquor store, they're protecting their business." 

One of the people at the store was later identified as Monet. Gonzalez returned later that night and spoke to her about her involvement in the incident. Monet, who is black, said she knew the liquor store owner for 30 years — so when she saw people who appeared to be looting it, she said, she wanted to help. 

"I was flagging down the police with the owner, asking, 'Can you guys help?'" Monet told Gonzalez. "I was handcuffed, thrown up against a wall with my husband and brother-in-law, and I'm like, 'What the h***?'"

Monet, who said she has lived in the neighborhood for 37 years, said she and other community members who were handcuffed were later released. 

"I get it. I understand [the officers] are tired. They're worn-out too. We've been worn out. I'm 55, we're tired too. The same injustice you did to us years ago, and my father and forefathers, you guys are doing to our young black men and our young black women, including Latinos," Monet told Gonzalez.

The LAPD did not respond to CBS News' request for comment. 

Many of the demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd's death have been peaceful, but some have turned violent, and looting has become more common as protests continue to swell in cities across the country. 

Over 400 arrests were made Sunday night on charges including looting, violation of curfew, burglary, and assault, police told CBS Los Angeles.

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