The count has grown by the hundreds each day as protesters spilled into the streets and encountered a heavy police presence and curfews that give law enforcement stepped-up arrest powers.
Los Angeles has had more than a quarter of the national arrests, followed by New York, Dallas and Philadelphia. Many of the arrests have been for low-level offenses such as curfew violations and failure to disperse. Hundreds were arrested on burglary and looting charges.
As cities were engulfed in unrest last week, politicians claimed that the majority of the protesters were outside agitators, including a contention by Minnesota’s governor that 80 percent of the participants in the demonstrations were from out of state.
The arrests in Minneapolis during a frenzied weekend tell a different story. In a nearly 24-hour period from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, 41 of the 52 people cited with protest-related arrests had Minnesota driver’s licenses, according to the Hennepin County sheriff.
In the nation’s capital, 86 percent of the more than 400 people arrested as of Wednesday afternoon were from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
It is not known how many of the people arrested were locked up — an issue at a time when many of the nation’s jails are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks. The protesters are often placed in zip-ties and hauled away from the scene in buses.
In Los Angeles, an online fundraising campaign has gathered $2 million so far to help more than 3,000 people arrested in demonstrations since Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Kath Rogers, executive director of the Los Angeles office of the National Lawyers Guild, said she was surprised by the huge number of arrests in that city. The office is calling on those arrested to be in contact so they can be part of the group’s mass defense. So far, they have heard from about 400 people, she said.
She said some people had been swept up in the arrests because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, like a woman who was simply going for an evening walk and wasn’t part of the protest. Or a young man who was taking pictures of the looting with his phone and then was arrested for looting.
“I’ve been here for two years and we go to hundreds of demonstrations, but I’ve never seen rubber bullets flying like this, tear gas used this way,” she said.
Los Angeles Chief Michel Moore told the city’s Police Commission Tuesday the bulk of the arrests, about 2,500, were for failure to disperse or curfew violations.
The rest were for crimes including burglary, looting, assaults on police officers and other violence, Moore told the panel, which functions as the police department’s civilian oversight board.
The only other US city with an arrest toll that comes close to Los Angeles’ is New York, with about 2,000, according to AP’s tally.
A Los Angeles group called the Peoples City Council Fund as of Wednesday night had gathered more than $2 million for arrested protesters there through the online fundraising platform gofundme. More than 46,000 people donated mostly small amounts, some just $10 or $20.
Fundraiser organizers said hundreds of thousands of the dollars raised will go to Black Lives Matter LA as well as the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive group that has been defending civil rights activists since the 1930s.
The AP tally didn’t take into account any additional arrests still unreported from Wednesday evening.