Today, Long Beach community members gathered to help clean up their city after protests following the death of George Floyd became destructive last night. Social media posts, such as Instagram stories, shared information such as time, place, and what gear to bring to help clean up downtown Long Beach.

On May 25, 2020, Floyd, an African-American male, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, MN. An independent autopsy ruled his cause of death a homicide from asphyxia and loss of blood flow. Video shows the arresting officer held Floyd to the ground while pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Communities across the world have spent the days since protesting his death and the police action believed to have caused it.

While many communities have planned peaceful daytime protests, not all have remained so. During the Long Beach protest, attendees shared beautiful moments; most notably, a minute of silence when many took a knee at the intersection of Ocean Blvd. and Alamitos Ave.

The protest reflected Long Beach’s strong and diverse community. Local citizens also spoke out on Twitter, sharing posts asking protest attendees to refrain from looting and vandalizing the community.

Despite these efforts, as the sun set, the protests turned dangerous. Fires burned, rubber bullets flew, and approximately 75 people were arrested for various acts of burglary, looting, and curfew violations.

Denise Maldonado, the 26-year-old owner of Confidential Coffee, arrived at her business last night just in time to stop protesters from kicking in the front door. She spent the night in her coffee shop and passed out water and coffee to volunteers who arrived at 7 a.m. to help clean up.

Alex Diffin, a 28-year-old artist, chose to paint a mural over a boarded-up shop on Pine Ave.

“I felt terrible that I couldn’t make it out, and I know that I can do something special with my art,” Diffin said as she gestured toward her painting. “I know I can make a difference and let everybody know that their city supports them.”

The mural is a gorgeous array of pastels depicting three women with narrowed eyebrows. The women are holding up their clenched fists in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

A mural painted in Long Beach by Alex Diffin following the protests on May 31, 2020. (Photo by Sophia Ungaro)
A mural painted in Long Beach by Alex Diffin following the protests on May 31, 2020. (Photo by Sophia Ungaro)

Other community members helped bring attention to local needs by posting on social media sites. Noah Chehade, a 22-year old from Long Beach, raised over $1,500 to spend on buying cleaning supplies, food, and water for the volunteers after posting on his social media. Chehade shared stories on his personal Instagram and tweeted to ask for donations.

“I have been outraged and upset about this topic for a long time,” Chehade said. “The second I saw that there was a protest in my home city I knew immediately that I needed to show out for my black family and the black members of my community and of course for the city of Long Beach.”

Chehade participated in the protests Sunday and knew what needed to be done in his hometown the following morning.

“Seeing thousands of my community members cleaning everything the very next day was amazing and inspiring, and since we banded together we had the whole city pretty much clean by 1 pm,” Chehade said after witnessing the events of the day.

The Long Beach community is continuing to prepare for additional riots in the upcoming days. The city has set a 1 p.m. curfew for businesses and a 5 p.m. curfew has been set citywide.

Today was a special day in Long Beach history. People of all shapes, sizes and colors came together to fix the damage from the night before. The multitude of volunteers who came out is a testament to the pride the people of Long Beach have for their home.

“It is a personal community of some of the most passionate and caring community members that I have ever experienced,” Chehade shared. “The last couple of days have made me so unbelievably proud to live on a Long Beach.”