Volunteers Clean-up Downtown Long Beach After Riots

On the night of May 31, citizens of Long Beach watched as rioters looted and destroyed countless stores in Downtown Long Beach and other areas of the city. The looting came after thousands of peaceful protesters marched down Broadway making their voice heard and joining the millions across the country protesting the death of George Floyd. 

These protests have been notorious for turning violent and some people are taking advantage of the large crowds to break store windows and loot both small and corporate businesses. Organizers of the protests in Long Beach wanted to make it clear that the looting seen in Los Angeles and other cities would not be tolerated at the protest. That tactic kept the protests peaceful but only for a short time. Around 5 O’clock the city of Long Beach declared a curfew which would be in effect from 6pm to 6am. This curfew was the push that sent many of the peaceful protesters home.

At the same time, the march took a turn to the Pike where stores like Nike, Forever 21, and H&M were looted. The chaos carried up to Long Beach Boulevard and Pine Avenue. Multiple news outlets were broadcasting the anarchy in the city throughout the night and some people decided to make a plan to take action and clean up the mess that was made.

The next day volunteers met at Jean Machine at 7am where they hit the streets and cleaned up what they could. Sam, the owner of Jean Machine was speechless and was in disbelief as he stood in his store surrounded by piles of his merchandise strewn on the floor. “I just want to go home and sleep,” he told volunteers inside the store. One of the volunteers directed me over to a cash register that had been smashed on the floor and told me how the register “served the community for countless years and provided clothing for hundreds of residents” and “provided clothing for anyone no matter their status.” 

There were hundreds of people walking up and down the streets with brooms, dustpans, and garbage bags all sweeping up glass and picking up trash from the streets. Many of them with the same purpose, to help protect and rebuild the small businesses in the city. There were also clean-up crews in other parts of the city.

Curfews were set in the Long Beach for the second day in a row with the business district closing at 1pm and the rest of the city at 4pm in an effort to curb any plans for looting again.