LOS ANGELES – Cannabis dispensaries in several states fell victim to vandalism and looting over the weekend as protests erupted across the United States in the wake of charges filed Friday in the case of George Floyd, whose brutal death occurred May 25, while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.
A video and images show Minneapolis police officers as they kneeled on Floyd, an African American man, while he struggled to breathe and then became motionless. He reportedly showed no signs of life after EMTs arrived and took him by ambulance to the hospital where Floyd was declared deceased.
News platform Al Jazeera mapped 120 U.S. cities affected by protests against police brutality that have occurred since Floyd’s death, and National Guard troops have been deployed to at least twenty-one U.S. cities.
Looting and vandalism have accompanied the peaceful protests, with several reports blaming “out-of-town groups” for the destruction. Roving crowds took advantage of the charged atmosphere, especially after sunset, as mobs rampaged world-famous retailers and mom-and-pop shops in cities from coast to coast.
For many California retailers, the unrest began the same day that some non-essential businesses were cautiously reopening after months-long pandemic closures. Restaurants and retailers rushed to shutter their stores in Los Angeles after the first night of looting left downtown L.A., the Fairfax district, and a mile-long stretch of tourist destination Melrose Avenue shattered, looted, and covered in graffiti.
Cannabis retailers, like well-known California brand Cookies, which were declared essential businesses during the pandemic, did not escape the wrath of angry crowds. Founded by rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Berner, the bright blue flagship store on Melrose Ave. was looted on Friday night.
Berner expressed support for the Floyd protests on his Instagram page, and said, “As a human being living in the world we’re living in today, I could not expect anything less until justice is served. We can rebuild a store, but we can’t bring someone back to life. With that being said, we stand with what’s going on in the world. The statement needed to be said.
“How can I worry about a store at a time like this when there is so much hate in the world, so much anger, so much pain, and a lack of justice,” Berner wrote.
Multi-state retailer MedMen suffered triple losses when its downtown L.A., Beverly Hills, and flagship West Hollywood, California, locations were vandalized and looted. Videos on social media showed the damage inflicted at the DTLA and WeHo locations.
Other Los Angeles area dispensary locations were vandalized and pillaged including Sweetflower’s Melrose Ave. location, Sherbinskis‘ flagship location in the Fairfax district, L.A. Kush, and The Pottery in Venice, California.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, local news source Berkeleyside.com described the weekend’s events and said, “looting happened in Emeryville, San Leandro, and Walnut Creek. Oakland has been particularly hard hit. Many small businesses in Chinatown and the Fruitvale district suffered extreme damage.”
In San Francisco on Saturday night a crowd of vandals smashed the window at cannabis dispensary Sparc located at 473 Haight Street, as well as nearby businesses including a CVS drugstore. The store announced on its Instagram that it would close its three San Francisco locations (SOMA, Haight St., and The Love Shack) until further notice, out of an abundance of caution.
The Farmacy’s Berkeley location was looted on Saturday night. Berkeley Police Department Chief Andrew Greenwood described the scene to Berkeleyside.com, “On Saturday, five to ten vehicles descended on the dispensary at the same time as people jumped out of the cars, broke the window, and went inside.”
Greenwood also noted multiple burglary attempts had been made at the Cannabis Buyers Club Berkeley (CBCB) on Shattuck Avenue, in Berkeley.
Further south, in Oakland, California, retailer ECO Cannabis on Telegraph Avenue was burglarized on Friday night. Despite being caught on an elaborate security system, ECO Cannabis owner Kevin Ahaesy told local news broadcast KCBS Radio, “They also had a lot of cannabis paraphernalia on, like sweatshirts and t-shirts, so they were looking to get free cannabis, and they got it.”
Vandals in Vallejo, California, also broke a window at cannabis retailer Vallejo Holistic Health Center, and stole live plants before being stopped by local police.
Violent protests and looting were not limited to California.
In Oregon, protests on the city of Eugene’s Seventh Avenue grew violent. The Hunky Dory Smoke Shop and Dispensary was looted while four other nearby businesses were destroyed, including a Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, Five Guys, and T-Mobile.
In Chicago, a man was arrested after police suspected him in an incident that left boxes from a cannabis dispensary strewn in the street, in the northwest suburb of Jefferson Park.
In Minneapolis, former police officer Derek Chauvin has been fired and charged with third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Media reports said preliminary autopsy results from the county examiner showed “no sign of death by asphyxia or strangulation,” citing instead, “underlying conditions” for contributing to Floyd’s death.
The Floyd family subsequently called for an independent autopsy, the results of which were released today.
The family’s lawyer told news source USA Today that Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson, who performed the independent autopsy, found Floyd’s cause of death was due to “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.”
VIDEO: Courtesy Berner415 / Instagram.com.