Gavin Newsom tells police chiefs ‘public safety a priority’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Newsom’s rebuttal of the looting comes just two days after looting and vandalism struck parts of his hometown, Oakland California Governor Gavin Newsom has told a meeting of…

Gavin Newsom tells police chiefs 'public safety a priority'

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Newsom’s rebuttal of the looting comes just two days after looting and vandalism struck parts of his hometown, Oakland

California Governor Gavin Newsom has told a meeting of the state’s mayors that public safety is a “priority” and they need to “step up”.

In a meeting held in his hometown of San Francisco, he also said that public service “doesn’t end with a proclamation”.

But he says the crimes of a few will not tell the story of the many.

Mr Newsom is in the Bay Area for the mayors meeting in San Francisco.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Oakland, California, on Friday, hours after a pair of high-end retailers in the city were attacked by a group of around 60 young men looting the shops.

There have been three confirmed deaths in the protests and more than 120 arrested.

Top officers meet top police

City leaders from across the Bay Area were in San Francisco to speak with the governor, and hundreds of police officers descended on the city to provide security.

It has not only brought the toughest policing in the city’s history but there have also been similar protests in other places across the state.

Among the dignitaries was Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, who held a news conference on Friday to warn against linking the protest to her decision to release information on an earlier “invasion” by police, part of an investigation into an alleged militia group.

In San Francisco on Saturday, Mr Newsom said only a few people had taken advantage of the demonstrations and assured the city’s leaders that “there’s no way to say that those responsible are representative of the population as a whole”.

He said he wanted to hear more from the city’s police department.

“I take issue in particular with the commissioner. … I saw no way to understand that citywide sentiment supported the kinds of actions he and the men and women in uniform took.”

There has been widespread anger among residents about the police response, Mr Newsom said.

“People are rightly concerned about accountability. I will be holding the police department accountable.”

Related: Riot in Oakland causes destruction and loss of life

He also called on local police forces to work more closely with each other.

“Public safety is a priority, but we can’t say public safety is priority and give up on making government function,” he said.

‘Mayor didn’t do enough’

Since Friday, police and sheriff’s officers have used pepper spray on crowds seeking to block vehicles and block highways.

Several officers have been injured, some of them police officers and others civilians, Oakland officials said.

Mr Schaaf, the Oakland mayor, had initially said she would refuse to use the word looters and then admitted she may have made a mistake by not using the term.

“I made a mistake, the public deserves a mayor who doesn’t make mistakes and I apologise for them,” she told reporters on Friday.

City council president Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who is also running for mayor, said she wanted to ensure that police on the ground got more training so they were better equipped to handle the protests.

The rallies started after Mr Trump announced a decision to end a program allowing young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, to stay in the country, including those who had come to America as children.

Mr Trump is now under pressure to reconsider the decision, amid demonstrations.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Protesters rally outside the Westfield UTC mall, where news and other publications were targeted

Nordstrom and Trader Joe’s, with several locations across the country, were closed on Saturday.

Both stores have also lost millions of dollars worth of merchandise.

On Saturday, the streets of downtown Oakland were mostly quiet and while the lights were shut off and shop fronts boarded up, most stores were open as usual.

Many workers, many in the stores that had been looted, said they were too fearful to return to work as their places of work were known to be popular targets.

The planned summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was also making headlines in the Bay Area.

Mr Trump has accused the media of “making a big mistake” in not having covered the news conference Mr Trump gave in Singapore during the summit.

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