Nevada National Guard Sent to Reno to Keep Order, Casinos Work to Reopen

Posted on: May 31, 2020, 01:26h. 

Last updated on: May 31, 2020, 12:55h.

Several Reno, Nevada casinos still apparently plan to reopen on Thursday despite scattered violence, looting, and vandalism this weekend in the city as protesters, angered by the death of George Floyd, turned destructive.

reno violence city hall
Officers guard Reno City Hall Saturday after protesters broke windows and started a fire. (Image: Paul Boger/KUNR)

Initially, a Black Lives Matter-sponsored demonstration attracted 1,000 or more protesters to Reno to demonstrate in connection with Monday’s death of the unarmed, black man while in Minneapolis police custody.

Officer Derek Chauvin was later arrested for placing his knee on Floyd’s neck, despite pleas by George that he could not breathe. Three other Minneapolis officers at the scene failed to intervene.

The death and related issues have led to protests nationwide, with many turning violent. Las Vegas saw 12 officers injured Friday night and 80 arrests from the unrest. More violence took place in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The protesters in Reno initially were peaceful on Saturday. Eventually, they made their way to the city’s police headquarters, where there was vandalism.

Later, protesters breached the City Hall. A fire was set at the complex.

Tear gas was used to disperse crowds. Reno officials issued a mandatory curfew for Saturday night.

Initially, it was limited to the downtown. Later it was “extended to include the entire city of Reno,” according to a tweet from Reno officials.

The National Guard was also called into Reno to help maintain order and safety. They will assist local police.

I want to make it clear we will not tolerate any violence during this time,” Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said in a statement released Saturday evening. “We will also not condone any illegal activity …. With safety in mind, we are implementing a mandatory curfew this evening.”

The mayor added she was “shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Floyd. While a reaction of outrage is understandable, I believe peaceful protest and constructive conversation is the best path forward for our great city and nation.”

National Guard Responds

Late Saturday, Gov. Steve Sisolak activated the Nevada National Guard at the request of Reno officials. The National Guard will “help keep local government buildings secure.”

By calling in the National Guard, “This will help [the] Reno Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies protect residents and disperse crowds,” the city said in a statement.

Officers were also sent to Reno from the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol, Investigations and Fire Marshal Divisions, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sparks Police Department.

Jason Soto, Reno’s police chief and acting city manager, added that, “Unfortunately, today we’ve seen the actions of a few overshadow what was otherwise a peaceful day of demonstration.

I speak for our entire police department when I say that we are all deeply disturbed and saddened by what occurred in Minneapolis,” Soto added in the statement.

“We spend hundreds of hours training over the course of our career to avoid such actions, and to maintain trust with all of our citizens. There are times when those of us in law enforcement must recognize and be critical of unjust actions by those who are given ultimate arrest authority.”

Many Reno Casinos Planning to Reopen on Thursday

As of Saturday night, there were no reports of damage to Reno’s many casinos. Many are downtown, the area where violence broke out Saturday.

Last week, the Peppermill Resort Hotel and the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa announced they will reopen on June 4. Both properties will provide limited operations when doors open to players. The venues are working to ensure numerous safety and sanitary upgrades will be ready upon reopening.

The Atlantis was testing its employees last week to ensure they do not have COVID-19, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The Atlantis will limit the number of players allowed on the gaming floor to one half of those approved by fire and building codes. Workers and visitors must have their temperature checked before entering the venue.

Both venues were closed in March by the coronavirus risk. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has given the state’s casinos the green light to start reopening on Thursday if they have appropriate safety and health precautions in place.

Also, in Reno, the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, the Circus Circus Casino, the Grand Sierra Casino, and Eldorado Resort Casino are also planning to reopen June 4, according to the properties’ websites.

Nearby, the Western Village Inn & Casino, located in Sparks, is also scheduled to reopen on June 4, according to the Gazette-Journal.