Peaceful protesters in Santa Maria joined cities on the Central Coast
and nationwide over the weekend to protest the murder of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground on May 25. But after the sun went down on Sunday, May 31, a different scene unfolded near city hall.
Videos circulating on social media showed cars driving in circles around a fire at the intersection between South Broadway and East Cook Street, adjacent to city hall, as some folks watch and others film the scene.
The next day, as Mayor Alice Patino addressed the media and community members in a news conference, the pavement was charred where the fire sat the night before. Across the street, some of the Santa Maria Town Center mall’s windows were shattered. A teal Santa Maria Glass Co. truck was parked outside Macy’s, and a repairman installed new glass at the department store.
Patino addressed the crowd surrounded by Santa Maria City Council members, announcing an emergency citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
, effective immediately through June 8. Patino called for “meaningful dialogue and constructive action,” denouncing the chaos of the night after the protests had finished around 6:30 p.m.
“People came to our beautiful city to do a peaceful protest, and I want to thank them for that,” she said. “Then, other people came in to destroy the message that had been conveyed earlier.”
PHOTO BY MALEA MARTIN
BROKEN GLASS: Santa Maria Glass Co. repairs shattered windows at the Santa Maria Town Center Mall on June 1. The city now has a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. due to the unrest that unfolded after a peaceful protest on May 31.
Later, Patino said, “We need justice for the black lives that have been lost.”
Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, president of the Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP, spoke after Patino, reiterating her organization’s support of peaceful protests.
“We’ve had hundreds of marches,” she said of the city’s past. “We’ve never had an incident.”
Santa Maria Police Chief Phil Hansen referred to the destruction after the protests, saying,“What happened here is not representative of this community.”
Santa Maria Councilmember Gloria Soto also gave her support to peaceful protesters in a phone call with New Times
earlier that day.
“My deepest condolences are with [George Floyd’s] family right now, and not just his, but the many families who have lost loved ones due to the racial inequities that exist in our country,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do. … I stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters from yesterday.” ∆