Volunteers across the US clean up glass, graffiti in wake of weekend protests

Heiko Küverling/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Volunteers turned out in droves over the weekend to help clean up their hometowns following the (sometimes violent) protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

In downtown Reno, Nevada, one local politician estimates that at least 3,000 people went out to help repair the city on Sunday — more than the number of people who protested the day before.

“They showed up and made a positive difference in a community that they love,” Donald Abbott, a councilman in nearby Sparks, Nevada, told ABC News. “Today was special. Today was just us coming together for the benefit of our community as a whole.”

Some volunteers went out once Washoe County’s 7 a.m. curfew lifted to sweep up glass from the sidewalks and scrub graffiti off the Virginia Street Bridge, which was especially hit hard by vandalism, Abbott said. There were 23 arrests made on Saturday and Sunday from protests in the region, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.

“If you didn’t know what happened last night, you wouldn’t know that something happened down here, it looks pretty good,” Abbott said.

Similar cleanup efforts were reported over the weekend in Seattle; Chicago; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Los Angeles; Cincinnati and Minneapolis, among other cities.

San Antonio Spurs player Lonnie Walker was among the volunteers cleaning up downtown San Antonio on Sunday.

“I got a lot of love for you all,” Walker said in a video he posted on Instagram. The NBA player handed out bottles of water and joined efforts to remove graffiti from the side of a building.

In Houston, truck driver Brian Irving was seen power washing a federal building early Saturday morning.

“I said, ‘Let me go down there and let me clean up my city,'” Irving told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston. “What came to my mind was what JFK said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.’ I’m coming down here to put my little bit in.”

Protests have erupted in cities across the country after Floyd, a black man, died on Memorial Day after he was pinned down by a white Minnesota police officer in Minneapolis. The National Guard was activated in Washington, D.C., and 17 other states. Mayors from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta have set weekend curfews to help limit further property damage, and business owners braced for more protests on Sunday.

“We were blessed, we didn’t have any damage last night,” Larry Rosenberger, owner of Kilwins chocolate shop in downtown San Antonio, told ABC News on Sunday. “We are concerned about today. We’ll probably end up closing a little early, and be mindful of letting our team get out of downtown safely.”

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