Richmond police made a total of 23 looting-related arrests in and around the Shops at Hilltop on Monday amid a night social unrest throughout the Bay Area, police said.
At about 6:47 p.m. that night, officers who were working a special assignment at the mall due to social media reports of a planned demonstration saw a group of about 50 people smash windows to delivery vans parked in the lot, according to Richmond police Capt. Al Walle.
The group then forced entry into the mall that had been earlier boarded up, Walle said. Sixteen people were arrested for looting, Walle said.
In a separate report, Walle also said one of the looters at Hilltop Mall “intentionally rammed an occupied police car and fled the scene.”
“Officers pursued the suspects who crashed their car and attempted to carjack a passing motorist,” Walle said. “All four suspects were arrested without incident.”
Also, looters were arrested after police responded to a commercial burglary in the 2900 block of Hilltop Mall Road, across from the mall, according to Walle.
Officers encountered a group of people at Blume Drive and Richmond Parkway who began to throw rocks and bottles. They were dispersed by the Contra Costa County Mobile Field Force team.
Holistic Healing Collective, a cannabis business at the Vista Del Mar Shopping Center in Hilltop, posted photos of destruction in its store from looters. The store was forced to close Tuesday for the first time in 10 years and plans to reopen Friday. There were unconfirmed reports of looting attempts at the Target in Richmond.
For the most part, Richmond businesses were prepared. Walmart at Hilltop stacked vast quantities of boxes and goods inside the eastern glass doors making it extremely difficult to gain entry. Target positioned a train of shopping carts chained together in front of the doors again making it difficult to gain entry.
And on 23rd Street, hundreds of community members banded together to help board up businesses and then stuck around into the night to protect them from possible looters, who did not come.
On Tuesday, the City of Richmond issued a citywide curfew order starting tonight at 6 p.m. until the 5 a.m. Contra Costa County also issued a countywide curfew that runs from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice, with the aim of keeping public members safe.
In a social media post Tuesday, RPD praised the community for its efforts to protect its businesses.
“Richmond is home to many vibrant and diverse small businesses that are an integral part of the community,” police said. “We encourage business owners to engage in typical sound safety practices such as securing doors and windows, using alarms, and identifying at risk entry areas for securing. Do not engage with anyone that burglarizes or vandalizes property.”
RPD said it would deploy increased patrols to both protect the community, and the right to protest.
“Our nation is hurting and over the past 24 hours many scenes from Richmond have been inspiring to see — of community coming together,” the department said.