Former LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell gives insight to peaceful protests disrupted by organized crime

Former L.A County Sheriff Jim McDonnell describes the intent of organized criminal groups, what they often wear and the weapons they bring to disrupt peaceful protests.
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, now ABC7's law enforcement expert, joined us Monday via Skype to discuss the recent unrest sparked by George Floyd's death.

We've seen peaceful and organized protests suddenly change to businesses getting destroyed. Is there anything law enforcement can do?

"On the law enforcement side they're doing what they can as far as trying to be able to obtain intelligence as to who these individuals are. We have peaceful protests all across America and all of a sudden they're interrupted by violent, criminal behavior. It appears from watching that behavior that it's organized," said McDonnell. "There's a number of people in the group that came there for the purpose of conducting that kind of activity."

MORE: Trapped Long Beach looters bust through store window
EMBED More News Videos

Incredible footage from Long Beach showed looters trapped in a store busting through a boarded up window to escape.

McDonnell points out that these individuals often wear helmets, motorcycle jackets with padding and come prepared with knapsacks filled with bricks, diesel batteries and liquids aimed squarely at law enforcement. He says they also have the ability to communicate activity quickly on social media.

After the Rodney King beating, McDonnell was instrumental in formulating and helping to bring the community and police together again. We asked if he felt those past efforts have been derailed due to the recent events.

"A lot of lessons learned from that one, but looking at more importantly: What do we do now in the fallout from this kind of an incident in cities across America? There is a blueprint I believe for a foundation of what can be done," said McDonnell.

He has hope there are opportunities to work with the community to help set up the next generation for success.

"Youth programs - a critical part of this. We have to be able to work with corporate America to get funding," said McDonnell. "To ensure that kids have opportunity. They have a vision and they have a hope for the future and a game plan on how to get there."

MORE: Over 400 arrested after vandals wreak havoc in Santa Monica
EMBED More News Videos

Santa Monica police said Monday hundreds of people were arrested - a majority of which were not residents - and multiple businesses were destroyed after mostly peaceful protests turned chaotic over the weekend.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.