CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Peaceful protests Saturday afternoon turned into riots in the streets of downtown Charleston by nightfall, leaving numerous businesses and property damaged.
Thousands of peaceful protestors gathered in Marion Square and marched down King Street around 2:00 p.m. as they demanded justice for George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis.
The Black Lives Matter protests also called for change in the use of force by law enforcement officers across the nation.
But the peaceful protests turned violent Saturday evening. Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said after many of the peaceful protestors went home, about 50 to 100 individuals began rioting in the streets of Charleston.
He believes many of these individuals are not even from the Charleston area.
Daylight on Sunday revealed carnage on King Street, Calhoun Street and in the Market from the violence that erupted overnight.
Building after building suffered damage to windows and doors, graffiti was painted on walls, and garbage littered the streets. Cars parked along King Street were also spraypainted or damaged.
Alarms of businesses that were damaged were still ringing as our crews reached downtown Charleston early Sunday morning. Food was still on tables at many restaurants after patrons left due to the riots.
A countywide curfew was lifted at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Many are now calling for a day of cleanup and unity in downtown Charleston. Volunteers are asked to meet in Marion Square at 8:00 a.m. to help the city recover from the overnight riots.
City officials are expected to hold a news conference at noon.