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West Palm Beach declares State of Local Emergency

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Geek Squad van damaged by protesters at the Best Buy on Palm Beach Lakes. (WPEC)

The city of West Palm Beach declared a State of Local Emergency on Sunday just as local protests took a destructive turn.

"There is reason to believe that there exists a clear and present danger of a riot or other general public disorder," wrote Mayor Keith James in his proclamation.

During a State of Local Emergency, the sale of firearms and alcohol is prohibited. Stores also cannot intentionally display ammunition or guns. It's also against the law to possess a firearm in a public place.

The city is also on a curfew for the next 72 hours. The curfew hours run from 9 pm. to 6 a.m. People who are traveling to and from their jobs are exempt, as long as they can show ID to law enforcement officers. And business are asked to do everything possible to provide identification for their employees who have to travel during the curfew hours.

City commissioners can vote to extend the local emergency if necessary. Mayor James said Monday he planned to approach the city commission on the issue.

The nationwide protests all stemmed from the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Derek Chauvin, now fired, faces charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Video showed Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes as he begged for air. His family says Chauvin should face more serious charges.

Protests started peacefully in West Palm Beach on Sunday.

Crowds, after gathering in downtown West Palm Beach, shut down I-95 near Okeechobee Boulevard for two hours. Peaceful protesters also made their way toward Mar-a-Lago, only to be met with barricades. People also marched across the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart to show their solidarity.

But then things turned destructive.

Protesters torched a Geek Squad van outside the Best Buy store on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. The Target store nearby had some of its windows broken out.

Businesses along a stretch of Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach had their windows shot up.

Court records show at least two arrests on riot-related charges.