An Australian mum sheltering with her newborn baby inside their California home says she is armed and ready after discovering bricks, maces and hammers planted on streets ahead of planned protests.
California’s streets, like so many others across the US, have been wracked by riots and looting following the death of George Floyd, with US President Donald Trump blaming the violence-marred protests on Antifa activists.
Phoning 911 should be the obvious first port of call in an emergency, but not anymore for Huntington Beach resident Sonya Ottaway, 46, the founder and CEO of Netball America.
“Someone told me they had to call (911) as someone was breaking in and the 911 operator said all resources are expended so ‘you need to deal with it’,” Ms Ottaway told The New Daily.
She said she knows many Americans with guns who, like herself, won’t hesitate to use them against trespassers.
“Right now we have them ready should someone try and break into our house,” Ms Ottaway said.
Ms Ottaway also voiced suspicions that people were being paid to add violence to peaceful protests.
She said bricks were “being dropped off by trucks” and weapons such as maces, bottles, and hammers were being hidden around streets near where protests were held.
“It’s absolutely horrific what happened to George Floyd. I think now it’s gone too far and has resulted in more senseless deaths,” she said.
“I had a friend in Hollywood who was at weekend protests and he was threatened with a knife and he hid in his car.”
Ms Ottaway is originally from Rockhampton in Queensland and lived in Brisbane for four years before the accounting organisation she works for, KPMG, transferred her to the US in 2000.
Now, protesters are flocking in droves to Huntington Beach, where she and her four-month-old daughter live.
“Buses are bringing in these protesters to our cities – dropping and picking up,” Ms Ottaway said.
“This past weekend at the beach where I live I saw all these rental bikes being unloaded with about 50 protesters picking them up to ride to Main St at the beach.”
She recently joined Huntington Beach residents in forming a wall to stop protesters from destroying and stealing from local businesses.
“Insurance policies don’t cover domestic terrorism, so people are now losing the ability to feed their families and put a roof over their head.”
The other side of the protests
The violence has definitely not been one-sided.
Police officers have fired pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters, struck them with batons, shoved them down, and even rammed their vehicles into a peacefully gathered crowd.
Activist Lucid Shinobi from Fort Worth, Texas, said he was arrested on Sunday (local time) – despite protesting peacefully – then thrown into jail and charged with instigating a riot.
“I am 23 years old and this is my first time in jail,” Mr Shinobi told The New Daily.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through just for standing up for what is right, the things that we all believe in – freedom.
“I do not want that to be taken out of our future.”
Evan Sharp, 30, is an African-American stay-at-home dad who relocated to Australia in 2015 and now wants to move over as many family members as he can due to the eruption of violence.
“I have actually been looking at how can I move my family here where it’s a bit safer … my mum and dad, my brother, any other relatives that I could possibly get,” Mr Sharp said.
“If people can’t sit down and talk, I don’t know how bad things will get.”
African-American woman Stephanie Zuniga-Maher, 40, moved to Australia in 2002 and, like Mr Sharp, has watched from the sidelines as her home country descended into chaos.
“I’ve even been talking to my mum to say, you know, by the time it gets bad enough to move, it’s too late,” Ms Zuniga-Maher said.
“I’ve definitely left the door open for them, depending on what happens.
“I don’t think anyone ever thought that America would get this bad to necessitate basically fleeing almost as refugees to another country.”
She was recently on the phone with her brother in Washington DC. He was telling her about his friend who was hit with a rubber bullet.
“I’m terrified for him. I’m terrified for his safety. I’m terrified for what might happen because it has been such an escalation over the last few days,” she said.
Quinton Phillips, 38, who has been participating in demonstrations in Fort Worth, Texas, said their protests have been peaceful for the most part.
“We did have an incident on Sunday evening where the police did use smoke to disperse the crowd and 50 people were arrested. However, we have not had any looting or rioting occur,” Mr Phillips told The New Daily.
“This movement has been genuine civil unrest by the people who have finally hit the boiling point of injustice.
“The people I have seen protesting locally are people that I know and have relationships with that are residents and they genuinely care about the wellbeing of their fellow man, not paid instigators.”