Daylight reveals extent of damage downtown after protest turns to riot

VIDEO: Clean-up begins after Saturday night riots in Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the sun rose Sunday morning, business and property owners in downtown Charleston had already been at work sweeping broken glass and boarding up broken windows.

Charleston Police announced King Street is closed for cleaning at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The police department said they will update as soon as it’s reopened. They are asking for everyone to stay away from the area until then.

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The worst of the damage was centered on King Street where people smashed in windows. There were reports of looting and fires.

No phones or computers appeared to be left in view at the Apple Store on King Street, where several people were seen smashing through the glass front door and rushing inside Saturday night.

It was a similar story at other businesses along King Street where shelves were emptied.

Business owners worked together Sunday morning, cleaning up their own businesses and damaged storefronts as well as those of other businesses. Members of the community also came out to help in the effort.

VIDEO: Clean-up begins early Sunday after rioting in downtown Charleston

Hours after a peaceful protest at Marion Square, the event took a dangerous and violent turn.

Protesters gathered at 2 p.m. to rally for justice in the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died Monday while in Minneapolis Police custody. In a widely-circulated video, Floyd was heard saying, “I can’t breathe” while a white police officer knelt over him with his knee on Floyd’s neck.

The video sparked days of protests in Minneapolis that have spread across the country.

But multiple protesters who went to downtown Charleston Saturday afternoon said they did not want violence, but rather a peaceful protest where their voices could be heard.

Protesters marched down King Street and back to Marion Square. Eventually, a group marched towards the Ravenel Bridge, briefly shutting down traffic on I-26 and in both directions of the bridge.

Police said a downtown statue and vehicles were spray-painted. But as night fell, people began throwing rocks at businesses, vehicles, police and others.

Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey announced a curfew that took effect at 11 p.m. Saturday and continued through 7 a.m. Sunday with the following statement:

Charleston County joins the rest of the nation grieving over the death of George Floyd. Our citizens have the right to be angry and the right to protest this unspeakable tragedy. Now is the time to join together and peacefully honor Mr. Floyd’s memory. Due to the property damage caused downtown, there will be a countywide curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg held a news conference Saturday night with police chief Luther Reynolds. Tecklenburg said he and the leaders of Mount Pleasant and North Charleston requested the countywide curfew.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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