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Virginia Beach city leaders speak on chaotic Oceanfront protest

Virginia Beach Police say that beginning Monday night, members of the National Guard will be out to assist officers.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — City officials briefed the public on Sunday night's protest in Virginia Beach that ended with destruction and vandalism.

It started out as a peaceful march calling for swift justice and action in the wake of George Floyd's death. Then, chaos broke loose after a small number of protesters started smashing windows of different storefronts and looting shops that line the Oceanfront.

Mayor Bobby Dyer, Acting Police Chief Tony Zucaro and Director of Office Emergency Management Erin Sutton spoke about the demonstration on Monday afternoon.

Zucaro called the start of protests at the Oceanfront Sunday night "remarkable," but says things became violent around 10 p.m.

According to the acting police chief, protesters began throwing objects at the officers and storefronts, and he also claimed the crowd dispersed tear gas at Virginia Beach police officers. 

He said the police then responded with tear gas of their own.

Officials said that 48 businesses total were damaged, with estimates over $300,000.

In their update, police said there were 19 arrests (28 charges) made at the Oceanfront. Two were felony charges, 16 were misdemeanor, and one was a traffic summons. Four were from Virginia areas outside of Hampton Roads. Two were from elsewhere.

Additionally, two officers had minor injuries during the confrontations, Zucaro said. One had a twisted ankle, while the other head and neck injuries from being hit by a cinderblock. Both are OK. 

One citizen also suffered minor injuries, which Zucaro described as scrapes and cuts from a hit-and-run where a private car was trying to leave.

Virginia Beach Police also say that National Guard troops will begin assisting them on Monday night.

13News Now spoke with Mayor Dyer Monday morning as cleanup efforts began.

"When things turn to destruction of property and things of that nature, that's where we hope to draw the line," Dyer said.

In a message to protesters, Dyer said, "Get your message out peacefully. You're being heard by an entire nation. We have to treat each other better as a society going forward." 

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