National Guard to assist Virginia Beach Police after 19 arrested during Oceanfront protests

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 17:26:35-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, police and city officials addressed Sunday night’s Oceanfront protests on Monday afternoon.

Large crowds flocked to the resort area, causing police to maintain a heavy presence into Monday morning.

The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd that happened in Minneapolis on May 25.

"While we vehemently defend one's right to protest, we stand apart from those who incense more senseless violence," Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said.

Virginia Beach Police said about 48 businesses were damaged Sunday night at the Oceanfront. Damage totaled about $317,000 worth of damage, not including any internal merchandise that may have been taken.

One business damaged is Ayaj Bhatt's restaurant on Atlantic Ave.

"It's a question of our survival right now," Bhatt said. "We just opened. We're coming out from this COVID situation, and now, here we go again."

Police added that no business sustained significant damage and no city building had significant damage. Storefront windows were damaged on several businesses.

Fires were also set, and officials said trash cans were taken away from the Oceanfront for the rest of the week due to the fires.

Two officers sustained minor injuries in the protests and there was one situation of a hit and run with minor injuries, police said.

There were 19 total arrests Sunday night. Two were felonies, 16 were misdemeanors and one was a traffic summons, according to police.

Of those who were arrested, four people were from Virginia Beach, eight were from Hampton, four were from outside Hampton Roads and two were from other areas of the state. (Note: This only accounts for 18 people, and information about the remaining person is unknown.)

Virginia Beach Police said their goal is always to preserve life and to preserve property.

Interim Police Chief Tony Zucaro said tear gas was deployed, after people started deploying it themselves.

"When your men and women are being confronted by trash cans being thrown at them, projectiles being thrown at them, tear gas being thrown at them and deployed at them, we were in a position to not only protect a community, but protect the women and men of our department," Zucaro said.

A video also surfaced on social media, showing a red truck driving through with people around it. VBPD officers are scrubbing through video, looking for the truck.

"It was high speed It was crowded. It was in the middle of a bunch of folks trying to conduct a peaceful demonstration. It was very disruptive," Zucaro said.

Atlantic Ave. on street parking will be closed and municipal parking lots in the resort area closing at 6 p.m.

There will also be restricted access in the resort area with barricades to assist with movement for the rest of the week, police said.

After the conference wrapped up Monday, a spokesperson for VBPD confirmed that they are being supplemented with National Guard troops starting Monday evening.