Local News

Clean up begins after night of looting, fires and vandalism in Raleigh, Fayetteville

Posted May 30, 2020 6:46 a.m. EDT
Updated May 31, 2020 4:45 p.m. EDT

— Protests, fires and outrage over the death of George Floyd have broken out in more than a dozen cities across the country, with some protesters smashing windows, setting cars ablaze and clashing with police officers.

Tonight, protesters in Fayetteville and Raleigh have grown unsettled--and, in some cases, violent. A historic building was set on fire and vandalized, police cars are being smashed, flag were burned. Protesters have thrown bottles and other items at officers. By the end of the night, it was unclear if the looters and people causing property damage were part of the original protests at all.

Protests began peacefully on Saturday afternoon. Cities all across North Carolina had protests. In the Triangle, thousands marched in Durham, Raleigh and Fayetteville chanting: "No justice, no peace."

These protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody on Monday. Former police officer Derek Chauvin has since been charged for third-degree murder and manslaughter after a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck until he couldn't breath went viral.

Some of Floyd's last words, "I can't breathe" were chanted in the streets of downtown Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville. His words were also spray-painted along buildings throughout the cities. Protesters in Durham carried a large white sheet with those words through the streets of downtown Durham yesterday afternoon.

Floyd's death has sparked protests and riots throughout the nation.

What you need to know:

  • Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin tweeted a statement: "Raleigh is better than this, and that's evidenced in the fact that our community is already coming together to help clean up." Baldwin and Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown will hold a news conference on Sunday morning.
  • Several fires started in downtown Raleigh between Fayetteville Street and Moore Square last night, where crowds gathered and riding around on the top of cars.
  • "Almost every window down on Fayetteville Street is broken," said WRAL reporter Keely Arthur.
  • People looted downtown Raleigh, broke into multiple businesses and set a fire in the CVS on Hargett Street and Fayetteville Street.
  • Looters broke into Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville and appear to be going in and out of the JC Penney. Police arrived on the scene last night.
  • Downtown Fayetteville is closed to all citizens.
  • The Market House, where many protesters in Fayetteville gathered today, was set on fire and windows were smashed. Protesters added more fuel to the fire and threw wood pallets to encourage a larger fire in the Market House
  • The protest in downtown Raleigh yesterday afternoon became heated between police and some members of the crowd. Some of the Raleigh police were in riot gear and shot tear gas to combat the protesters.
  • The protest began around 5 p.m. Thousands of protesters were chanting, marching, carrying signs and sharing emotional speeches.
  • Protests began in Durham around 1 p.m., where hundreds are gathered on East Chapel Hill Street and Morris Street to protest in solidarity with Floyd. These protests remained peaceful and are now over.
  • In Fayetteville, protesters are still marching after several hours of carrying signs and listening to emotional speeches. The group marched down Skibo Road.
  • Gov. Cooper tweeted: "I am in continuing contact with Emergency Management leaders about violence occurring in some of our cities. Frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systemic racism are marred. I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully."
  • Mitch Colvin, the mayor of Fayetteville, joined with the peaceful protests.
  • Mark-Anthony Middleton, on the Durham City Council, was also at the protests in Durham.

Latest Updates

4:45 p.m.: The National Guard will deploy in Charlotte and Raleigh, Gov. Roy Cooper said Sunday afternoon.

The governor said he's authorized 450 guard members, and that they're available by requests from local officials. At his 4 p.m. press conference, Cooper said Raleigh and Charlotte had requested help.

The governor said at least some of these guard members are trained in civil disturbance response.

4:00 p.m.: Governor Roy Cooper gives response to the protests that happened in cities across NC, as well as the violent incidents that happened afterwards.

10 a.m.: The Downtown Raleigh Alliance said there is "not a need for more volunteers" in downtown Raleigh at the moment.

"If you are already here, please limit your help to just picking up trash and staying out of way of businesses. Do not go near glass or graffiti. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing," a post from their Facebook says.

9:30 a.m.: North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore asked Governor Roy Cooper to deploy the National Guard Saturday night. The guard has not been deployed.

9 a.m.: Mayor of Raleigh Mary-Ann Baldwin said that those who violently protested "will not be tolerated," in a statement on her twitter.

"Raleigh's better than this," she said.

8:30 a.m.: Hundreds people are downtown Raleigh cleaning up broken glass, garbage and other destruction on the streets.

8 a.m.: Outside of the Art of Style Boutique on West Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, several groups are helping with cleanup.

6:45 a.m.: A volunteer group is planning to clean up downtown Raleigh at around 10 a.m. around the Raleigh Times Bar. People are told to bring masks, trash bags and brooms.

6 a.m.: Raleigh Police said there are no more people protesting within the city of Raleigh.

5 a.m.: Cititrends and Food Lion are all vandalized at the Raleigh Road plaza. Several flat screens are on the ground.

4:30 a.m.: Police confirmed several businesses in Emporium Plaza were damaged during last night's protests: AT&T, Raleigh Tobacco and Dr. Stylez. There's a cash register on the ground and broken glass outside the buildings. There is also vandalism at the Gamestop on Capital Boulevard.

4 a.m.: An Academy Sports in Fayetteville on Skibo Road was damaged during last night's protests.

3:15 a.m.: WRAL Kasey Cunningham drove through downtown Raleigh for a live look at how things look this morning.

3:00 a.m.: Fayetteville Police said things are beginning to quiet down, but they are blocking all roads around the hot zone. An officer said two Walmart stores and a Dick's Sporting Goods are all 'destroyed,' among others.

2:45 a.m.: The Raleigh Chief of Police has released a statement regarding the incidents following the peaceful protest on Saturday.

Chief Deck-Brown said the protests began as a peaceful gathering, expressing their heartfelt frustration with issues regarding the Minneapolis police and local police issues. She said she readily supports and accommodates their right to protest.

However, she said they will not turn a blind eye to individuals who broke store windows, looted and set fires. She said they will not tolerate those acts, nor people who sow discord where others seek to sow open discourse.

"We are a community are better than this," she said.

2:00 a.m.: People are setting fires in downtown Raleigh. Police officers are still blocking areas like CVS, but between Fayetteville Street and Moore Square, crowds have gathered, and several fires have started. People are riding on top of their cars.

1:00 a.m.: Looters are running into the Walmart on Skibo Road in Fayetteville and running out with items like big screen TVs.

12:05 a.m.: An employee from Dollar General in downtown Raleigh spoke on camera saying she is concerned the damage, looting and fire will impact her job. As many local businesses were already struggling due to COVID-19, the destruction creates concern of more job loss during a time of economic hardship for many families.

"I'm speechless," said Nikaya Swain. "I had people calling me saying 'Your job's on fire.'"

"This is my place of work. This is how I help my family pay bills. This is how I help my mom pay the bills. This is how we put food in our house."

May 30, 2020 Protest updates:

Midnight: A tweet from a Raleigh resident who lives in the apartments overlooking downtown, above the fire set in the Dollar General (DGX) said they have not evacuated their apartment, as they have no where safe to go.

She also said she supports the protests, but from her home she is able to hear glass shattering as people break into local family-owned businesses.

She said she hopes people starting fires and causing property damage remember that some of these buildings aren't empty--they're full of families who live in the apartments above these places that are being set on fire.

11:40 p.m.: Looters smashed windows, looted and set a fire at the Dollar General (DGX) in downtown Raleigh. Firefighters have arrived to try to extinguish the flames.

11:35 p.m.: Reporters were asked to back away as police in riot gear began heavy use of tear gas to try to subdue looters in downtown Raleigh.

11:30 p.m.: Looters were chased off by police with tear gas after breaking into CVS on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. However, they have now returned to continue looting.

11:15 p.m.: Looters have broken into Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville and appear to be going in and out of the JC Penney. Police have arrived on the scene.

11:00 p.m.: "Almost every window down Fayetteville Street is broken," said WRAL reporter Keely Arthur. From images, it looks like Subway, CVS, Downtown Dental and many other local businesses have been damaged. Arthur was caught in tear gas while trying to cover the destruction in downtown.

10:30 p.m.: Crowds continue to gather in downtown Raleigh. Some are breaking windows, looting. Others are still shouting messages from today's protest. While some members of the protest are damaging property, other protesters are trying to prevent damage from occurring.

10:00 p.m.: People have begun breaking glass all down Fayetteville Street, looting stores and buildings including the CVS, the Raleigh Building and Morning Times coffee shop.

9:50 p.m.: People from the protest have broken the windows and doors at CVS in downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street and Hargett Street. They appear to be looting.

9:10 p.m.: Protesters have set a flag on fire at the Market House in downtown Fayetteville. They are throwing fuel on the flames and adding wooden pallets to try and encourage a larger blaze.

9 p.m.: WRAL reporters covering the protests in downtown Raleigh were hit with tear gas.

8:55 p.m.: Downtown Fayetteville has been closed. A statement from Fayetteville Police said, "Due to the events that are transpiring downtown, it has been closed to all traffic. Avoid downtown Fayetteville at this time."

8:30 p.m.: At Salisbury Street and McDowell Street, some protesters have surrounded a police vehicle in downtown Raleigh, and a few protesters have climbed on top of the vehicle, where they are dancing and stomping on the roof.

8:00 p.m.: Protesters are clashing with police in Raleigh. People are reportedly throwing things at officers and shouting. The crowd reportedly keeps advancing, and the police are moving back.

The crowd size seems to be several hundred people, and seem to be growing in aggression.

7:40 p.m.: The Market House, a building with a history relating to trading enslaved peoples in the 1800s, is on fire.

Protesters reportedly went inside the building carrying a can of gasoline. They set fire inside the building and took a baseball bat to shatter the windows.

7:25 p.m.: The Raleigh Police tweeted a message to protesters, saying they want to protect everyone's right to protest, but asking them to please keep it peaceful and refrain from throwing items at police.

7:20 p.m. Some of the police in Raleigh are wearing riot gear.

7:05 p.m.: McDowell Street is closed just before I-440 as a result of the protest.

7:00 p.m.: The protest has escalated in downtown Raleigh near McDowell Street, becoming heated between police and some members of the crowd. There are reports of flag burning and protesters throwing things at the back of the jail. A vehicle's window was broken.

6:45 p.m.: Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead released a statement about the protests happening in Durham this afternoon.

"I am proud of these men and women from all races and backgrounds and how they came together to peacefully let their voices be heard regarding needed change in the criminal justice system. The system is not perfect, it is not equitable for all, and it is in need of reform.

As the Sheriff of Durham County I support their right to assemble to express their outage in a peaceful manner. The fact they did so while also expressing their love for all humanity indicates we can make the needed changes happen together," Birkhead wrote.

6:30 p.m.: Protesters have begun rioting in Columbia, South Carolina. Photos show police cars that were smashed, spray-painted and set on fire.

Hundreds of protesters have also gathered in cities like New York and Minneapolis, where so far the protests have remained peaceful today.

6 p.m.: The crowd in Raleigh is marching towards the police station.

5:45 p.m.: More than 1,000 people have gathered for the downtown Raleigh protest.

5:30 p.m.: Celebrities and local leaders like rapper J Cole and basketball player Dee Smith were seen attending the Fayetteville protest.

4:30 p.m.: Some cities across the country have issued curfews as violence took place overnight Friday.

4:00 p.m.: Protesters were beginning to gather in downtown Raleigh in preparation for the march expected to begin around 5 p.m.

3:30 p.m.: Governor Cooper tweeted in solidarity with the message of the protests happening across NC, saying, "George Floyd and so many others should be alive right now. People are angry, frustrated and sad, and I am too."

He expressed his wishes for the protests to remain peaceful, saying, "The protests around the country offer a space for people to make their voices heard, but they must happen without violence and further loss of life."

Durham protest

The crowd in Durham had many families and children, and many are wearing black. People marching are chanting: "No justice, no peace."

Through the streets, demonstrators carry a sign that reads: "I can't breathe."

These are the words that Floyd said in his last couple minutes -- caught on video -- while a Minneapolis police office knelt on Floyd's neck. Floyd died in police custody. The former officer Derek Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The protest started with a few people and escalated quickly as people joined the protest on the streets. People interviewed were in tears while protesting on the streets.

"We're angry and we're tired," a protestor said. "How long does this have to go on?"

"Brothers of all colors are just tired," the protestor said.

Durham City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton was among one of the protestors. He said he was pleased with the "low-profile" the police in Durham have taken today.

"This is a peaceable demonstration. Folk are hurting, folk are angry," he said.

"The police that police Durham know that this is Durham," Middleton said. "They know we're going to show up, they know we are going to raise our voices. They know we are going to come together in times of triumph and in tragedy and collectively celebrate, and collectively heal."

Fayetteville protest

Mayor of Fayetteville Mitch Colvin said he is joining the peaceful protests in Fayetteville today on Skibo Road.

"It is my hope and prayer that we will have a peaceful expression of our frustration and make a firm commitment to change," Colvin said.

Raleigh protest

Faisal Khan, one of the organizer's of Raleigh's protest, spoke to WRAL. He said he wants reform in police departments across the country, including the Raleigh Police. He also said these departments need to be more proactive in their community outreach and wants reform in how police deal with minority groups. Khan hopes between 300 to 1,000 people attend today's protest.

Khan also was worried about the coronavirus, but said "desperate times call for desperate measures."

The organizers of the protests in Raleigh said they are hoping to come together "in solidarity with a peaceful non-violent protest to have our voices heard in response to the ongoing police excessive force and police militarization in the US and demand immediate criminal law reform."

A statement from the protesters also said that the police in North Carolina have "never carried out their duty to keep everyone safe" and that law enforcement "bring more violence and fear to our communities by arresting, beating and ultimately murdering us."

Information about the Charlotte protests

As protesters gather in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Charlotte and other cities across the US, frustration continues to grow over the death of George Floyd. For many organizers, it's about more than the death about one man, but about racial inequality across the country.

Kass Ottley, a community activist:

"There are a lot of things that need to change for us to move forward, but I think everybody needs to be honest about what the real problems are," Ottley told CNN affiliate WCCB-TV. "How many times can you address the same issue and see nothing change."

Craig Maxwell, protester:

"I've been talking to several of my black friends the last day or two and hearing what they're going through. A lot of introspection and recognizing that I don't put my money where my mouth is enough. Basically, I was there because they were there, if that makes sense.

"I couldn't keep waiting for there to be something more immediate in my life that got me out there. It can't be about me; otherwise, it won't work. I needed to step up my advocacy. I showed myself more of what I was capable of tonight and it helped me connect to purpose for why I should protest. As uncomfortable as I may have been, not everyone gets to walk away from the situation just because it's uncomfortable... Until you're there looking someone in the eye, you're not connecting with them as fully as you should."

Friday night, protestors gathered in Charlotte outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, made a statement on her twitter about Friday night's protests: "This is painful for all of us."

  • In Nashville, where a 10 p.m. curfew was set and Mayor John Cooper declared a state of civil emergency, officers used tear gas to disperse a crowd that turned violent. Protestors set Nashville's historic courthouse on fire, according to police, and several businesses were damaged.

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