Widespread damage from overnight riots greeted San Francisco business owners on Sunday morning following a second night of havoc in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Market Street was mostly quiet Sunday, a day after vandalism and looting stained the city’s main commercial thoroughfare.
What started as peaceful protests Saturday afternoon turned into a storm of looting once the sun set, according to observers, and left a wake that appeared to be scattershot a day later.
Late Sunday morning, an alarm was still chirping inside a CVS, which had its front glass door smashed at 581 Market St., while the 7-Eleven across the street went untouched.
Retired Marine Frank Asaro said the looting was way more precise than it seemed in the aftermath. He watched as vans and trucks double-parked on Market Street and waited for people to make multiple trips into businesses to shuttle stolen goods into the waiting vehicles.
“It was a free-for-all,” Asaro said. “People were saying that they were doing this in the name of George Floyd, but they shouldn’t drag his name through the mud with these actions.”
A security guard at a Market Street hotel who didn’t want to be identified had similar observations. Standing behind a makeshift barricade in front of the hotel, he said that the protests were calm until 8 or 9 p.m.
Then, people started breaking windows, entering businesses and stealing goods. The guard said it wasn’t until 1 or 2 a.m. that police were able to stop the looting.
Boarded-up windows and graffiti-marked businesses were common for stretches of Market Street. At the 6th and Market Muni stop, someone scribbled “Kill Cops.”
Around Union Square, hammering, buzz saws and the scrubbing of spray paint were heard in the famous shopping district. Businesses including the AT&T store on Powell Street as well as the Urban Outfitters and Swatch stores a block away had broken windows and signs of theft.
Crate & Barrel employees were boarding broken windows at the multi-floor store at Stockton and O’Farrell, while at Stockton and Geary workers barricaded broken windows at the Louis Vuitton boutique as employees inside surveyed what was left of the merchandise.
Dolce & Gabbana on Grant Avenue also had broken windows and showed signs of merchandise stolen. Department stores Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus appeared undamaged, as did jeweler Tiffany & Co. The Apple Store on Post Street showed signs of damage on the door and displayed a sign saying they were closed today for business.
Grace Jewelers, a business owned by Diana Tang on the street level of the Ellis-O’Farrell Parking Garage, had broken windows and what the owner’s husband, Paul Zhou, said were bullet holes in the glass and walls. The store’s 40-plus cases of jewelry were smashed and the majority of the inventory was gone, said Zhou.
“I can’t put a dollar estimate on it now,” said Zhou of the store’s losses. “My wife is devastated. She’s been here since 1991. She built this over almost 30 years.”
Zhou and Tang came to the city from their home in San Ramon when they got news of the activity in Union Square around 10 p.m. Saturday. By the time they arrived, the store had been ransacked, leaving shards of glass and bullet casings on the floor.
“We ended up staying in the store overnight to try and clean,” said Zhou. “There was a very heavy police presence until around 4 a.m.”
Zhou said he and Tang were sympathetic to the reasons for nonviolent protest. He also said that, as Chinese American business owners who can feel especially at risk of violence, they’re grateful for the protection of the police.
Giovanni Ohayon, the manager at Venezia antiques on Grant Avenue, said that during the Saturday night activities his store just inside the gates of Chinatown had its door broken. The store’s neighbors, including the two Michael antique stores, did not appear to have sustained damage.
Ohayon said “a lot of stuff was stolen” on Saturday as he boarded the door and windows further on Sunday. He said he was working quickly, fearing more theft and damage once night fell in a few hours.
Stores in Oakland, Emeryville, Vallejo and San Francisco’s Chinatown also were vandalized and looted.