Riot breaks out in downtown Santa Cruz; windows broken on dozens of businesses, porch of cafe set on fire

SANTA CRUZ – A group of protesters demonstrating at a May Day rally for worker’s and immigrant rights downtown broke off into a riot vandalizing about a dozen businesses around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

Windows were left shattered and graffiti including anarchy signs were tagged onto buildings. The Rittenhouse Building, Urban Outfitters, Jamba Juice and Velvet Underground all had windows broken, according to Capt. Steve Clark.

Santa Cruz police asked for help from all agencies in the county to break up the riot. At one point, protesters lit a fire on the porch of Caffe Pergolesi and blocked access to firefighters, officers said. Police were able to clear out the demonstrators before more damage was caused.

A large rock sat outside Verizon Wireless on the 100 block of Cooper Street, where vandals tried to break the window twice, according to Clark.

“The damage that was caused was without purpose,” Clark said. “It was senseless violence that victimized a community who cannot afford to be victimized in this manner. This did nothing to add credit to whatever they believed their cause was.”

One person was arrested for damaging a window. Police are searching for others responsible for the damage. Protesters cleared the downtown area around midnight.

“Our entire team of investigators are processing the scene of violence for evidence,” Clark said. “We will be looking at video available to try to ID who’s responsible.”

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