‘Today is Atlantic City at it’s worst’ mayor says about looting
ATLANTIC CITY — An angry Mayor Marty Small laid some of the blame for Sunday night's looting and violence at the feet of Atlantic City's citizens, but said the shopping area vandalized will reopen.
After a peaceful demonstration and march on the boardwalk Sunday afternoon, looters began smashing windows at the Tanger Outlets Atlantic City shopping area during the early evening along three blocks of Baltic Avenue.
"The city of Atlantic City was under siege yesterday," Small said during a media briefing at the outlet center where volunteers reported to help clean up.
The mayor said a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be in effect daily until June 8. A curfew was put into effect on Sunday night by police right after the looting.
Small said of the 17 people arrested during the looting, only six were from Atlantic City, with the others from both "out of state" and from other New Jersey municipalities but he did not specify from where. The mayor also did not say what those who were arrested were charged with or if they were being held.
Atlantic City police spokesman Kevin Fair told New Jersey 101.5 200 to 300 people were protesting on Sunday night. Fair said he was was preparing a statement about the arrests for release on Monday afternoon.
Small said he spoke with Steve Tanger, CEO of Tanger Outlets, who said he was disappointed at the protests but assured him that repairs will be made to the 20 damaged stores and the center will reopen.
"He said 'Mayor, we gotta work together to build this back up. And I pledge our 100% full support,'" Small said.
Non-essential retail stores, including the Outlet's 70 stores, have been closed in New Jersey by executive order by Gov. Phil Murphy to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Some of the stores lost their entire inventory, Small said Tanger told him. He noted that surveillance video was operating in the stores during the looting.
The All Wars Memorial Building, also called the Soliders Home, was also vandalized, according to Small, with food and supplies stolen that were to be used for the preparation of hot meals for nearly 4,000 seniors twice a week.
Sixty State Police troopers reported to Atlantic City on Sunday night and another 50 came in Monday, according to the mayor. He said he would consider bringing in the National Guard if looting and protests were to continue.
"All options are on the table," Small said when asked if he would consider bringing in National Guard troops. He said Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged whatever the city needs to clean up after the vandalism.
During a late-night media briefing the mayor held hours after the looting, Small said he was "pissed" and disappointed at the behavior and the "embarrassment" it brought to the city he was was ready to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murphy hinted that casinos may reopen in time for the July 4 holiday during an interview with Atlantic City radio station WOND, according to NJ.com coverage of the interview.
"It's unacceptable, it's unfortunate and it's sad that we as a city let some outsiders come in and trash our town, destroy our businesses while all the Atlantic City people who participated let it happen," Small said Sunday night,
He was especially upset at people who did Facebook Live broadcasts instead of trying to stop it.
"This is our city. And only things like this happen in Atlantic City because we let it happen. And it's a damn shame. Everybody should be disappointed. It's hurtful," Small said.
"Today is Atlantic City at it's worst," Small said.
The Atlantic City Expressway, which was also closed in both directions at Atlantic Avenue, was reopened on Monday morning.
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