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Updated: Stores closed in Napa County amid concerns of Bay Area civil unrest
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Updated: Stores closed in Napa County amid concerns of Bay Area civil unrest

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As a precautionary measure, a variety of stores in Napa County closed starting Sunday and Monday amid continued looting and unrest in various other parts of the Bay Area, including several cities in Solano and Sonoma counties.

The store closings took place before American Canyon and Napa County announced a curfew would begin Tuesday night for areas south of the city of Napa, to be in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Thursday.

The curfews apply to the city of American Canyon as well as unincorporated areas starting at Highway 29’s intersection with Jameson Canyon Road (Highway 12) and south, east and west to the county limits. Other portions of the county from the city of Napa northward are not subject to curfew at this time, Napa County’s Office of Emergency Services said in a Nixle alert.

“The purpose of the curfew, which is similar to neighboring cities, is to protect our residents and businesses, particularly from out-of-the-area opportunistic looters,” American Canyon said in a statement announcing the order. “American Canyon Police and Napa (County) Sheriff’s Office resources will increase staffing levels to help ensure public safety.”

City streets and public rights of way – including Highway 29, American Canyon’s main north-south artery – will be closed during the curfew, as well as parks, trails, open spaces, shopping centers and privately owned parking lots.

The order does not apply to people who are traveling directly to and from work or to obtain medical and emergency assistance, or to provide care for family members or others. Also exempt are credentialed media members involved in newsgathering, or those who are homeless and remain sheltered in one location.

City residents are asked to stay in their homes during curfew hours, and to call 707-253-4451 to report suspicious activity or 911 in case of emergency.

The full curfew order can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3crvCYK.

The Target retail chain shut down its stores at the Bel Aire Plaza and South Napa Marketplace well ahead of their normal closing times, according to Police Chief Robert Plummer. Managers made the decision to close the stores in line with decisions to shut down other stores of the chain across the Bay Area, he said in an email Monday night.

Both of Napa’s Target stores were open for business as of midday Tuesday. A Target employee – who asked to remain anonymous in light of Target’s corporate communications policy that bars team members from speaking to the media – confirmed that stores in the district that includes Napa closed just before noon on Monday.

“We followed the lead of everyone else in the district – including stores like Vallejo,” the employee said. The Bel Aire Plaza Target was slated to move up its closing time to 5 p.m. Tuesday, 6 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Thursday in light of recent rioting and looting at other stores in the district, according to the employee.

Ultimately, the employee said, Napa’s Targets had been largely not threatened, but closed “in solidarity” with other stores nearby.

Other businesses in Napa also shut down or boarded up doors and windows Monday at the direction of their corporate offices, according to Capt. Jennifer Gonzales. Napa Police has put “additional resources” on duty in response to disturbances elsewhere in the Bay Area, she said in a voicemail Tuesday morning.

Over the weekend, the owners of Lawler’s Liquors boarded up the store at Jefferson Street just south of Lincoln Avenue and parked a car in front of the entrance in anticipation of Bay Area unrest, according to Peter Ibrahim, who has operated the shop with his brother George for 31 years.

On Sunday night, hundreds of people participated in peaceful march in central Napa, but there were no reports of property damage, police said.

Lawler’s is closing at 9 p.m., about an hour and a half earlier than usual, but Ibrahim emphasized the need to remove the protective cladding anytime the liquor store is open. “My brother removes the boards at 5 a.m. so the kids and community don’t have to feel like they live in a war-torn country,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

In downtown Napa, the Bounty Hunter wine bar and restaurant closed at 4 p.m. Sunday and boarded up its front entrance on First Street before reopening at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Don Wetherell, vice president of restaurant operations. Bounty Hunter’s branch in Walnut Creek shut down at the same time as the Napa eatery, and remained sealed off Tuesday amid looting in that city, he said.

Social media chatter that indicated protests could turn violent convinced managers to pre-emptively close both restaurants and stay in regular contact with local police, according to Wetherell, who reported no problems connected with a Napa march and protest Sunday but remained watchful.

“We’ve got extra plywood available,” he said. “If something gets hot, we’re prepared to close the shop (again) and board up the front and back doors and close up for the day. We want to keep our employees safe.”

American Canyon Police also announced increased staffing Monday night in a Facebook post that included a photo of patrol cars stationed in front of the Walgreens pharmacy on American Canyon Road.

The American Canyon Walmart fortified its entrance and closed its doors early at 8 p.m. Monday, according to Police Chief Oscar Ortiz. No looting attempts were reported overnight in the city, but Ortiz said additional patrols were expected to continue at least through Tuesday night.

The closures and extra patrols implemented as looting and violence broke out in the Bay Area and nationally amid continued protests against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, in Minneapolis police custody May 25.

In Vallejo, police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that was reported early Tuesday morning after reports of an attempted break-in at a Walgreens. In Fairfield, crowds swarmed the Solano Town Center and Gateway shopping areas, smashing through windows and stealing merchandise, according to the Daily Republic.

Earlier, Solano County declared a countywide curfew that will run from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday.

Napa was the site of a protest rally Sunday in response to the death of Floyd, who was pinned at the neck by an officer’s knee for more than eight minutes. The 8 1/2-hour demonstration drew an estimated 300 people who marched from downtown Napa onto Soscol Avenue, Jefferson Street and Lincoln Avenue.

No vandalism or property crimes during the rally were reported by police, who said the only arrest made in connection with the event was for public intoxication.

With reports from Register reporter Sarah Klearman and Bay City News Service.

You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or hyune@napanews.com

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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