Newton police on Monday night monitored some 50 vehicles that circled the Chestnut Hill mall, on the same night trouble was reported at shopping centers elsewhere including Braintree, Natick and Providence, according to an incident report.
The Newton police report said officers were called around 8:37 p.m. Monday to the Chestnut Hill Upper Mall located at 199 Boylston Street for a suspicious vehicle. A caller had reported seeing seven or eight young males in a black van with its license plate covered, according to the report.
A Newton police sergeant was already working a detail at the mall at the time, since “mall security staff was anticipating that there was potential for looters to vandalize and steal from the various businesses within the mall,” the report said.
That sergeant told responding units that the vehicle in question had already left the area on Route 9 in an unknown direction of travel, according to the report.
“As I was speaking with Sgt. we observed approximately 12 cars, several of which had out of state license plates, and each with numerous occupants, gathering on the southwest side of the Chestnut Hill parking lot,” the report said. “It should be noted that the Chestnut Hill mall was closed with the exception of the Cheesecake Factory, which is located on the opposite side of the parking lot.”
Those cars sped off in various directions when police approached the vehicles in an effort to speak with the occupants, according to the report. Later, the report said, dispatch informed cops that a state trooper was calling for help while struggling with a suspect on the westbound/Chestnut Hill Upper Mall entry ramp.
“The Newton Police units in the area immediately responded to assist the Trooper, however, several other State Police Units were able to come to his aid within moments and gain control of the situation,” the report said.
Multiple police agencies, meanwhile, remained on scene.
“Newton, Brookline and State Police units continued to patrol the area as upwards of 50 vehicles, many of which had out of state license plates and/or came back as rental vehicles, continued to circle both the Chestnut Hill Upper and Lower Malls,” the report said.
Newton police stuck around for several hours until there were no more vehicles in the area, according to the report.
Then on Tuesday night, according to a separate report, Newton police observed graffiti at The Street, a shopping center located nearby on Boylston Street.
The phrase " ‘NEWTON COPS ARE RACIST F12’ was written in black paint upon a white brick side of 55 Boylston St.," the report said. “During the canvas Sgt. observed ‘F12’ on a white brick under a parking area of 43 Boylston St.” The number 12 is often used as a slang term for law enforcement, officials have said.
There was also an incident Monday night at South Shore Plaza in Braintree, where police made multiple arrests and seized a vehicle that contained smoke grenades after authorities were alerted Monday night to social media posts about planned looting there, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
In Providence overnight Monday, dozens of people broke into the Providence Place shopping mall, setting a police car on fire, and smashing the windows of stores they then looted, officials have said. Sixty-five people were arrested.
Natick also had issues at a local mall Monday night.
“There is currently an active incident in the area of the Natick Mall,” Natick police said in a Facebook posting around 10 p.m. Monday. “We ask that you use caution while traveling in the area or avoid the area if possible.”
Natick police Chief James Hicks told Boston 25 that the "threat we had was (that vandals) would be going into the malls in order to wreak havoc and possibly loot some of the high-end stores,” and that officers at one point stepped in to block a large number of people from accessing the closed mall who had been walking toward the shopping center on foot paths.
"They would have overrun us,” Hicks told Boston 25. “They would have gotten us to the point where we couldn’t keep them from getting inside the building. And once inside the building, they could have done some damage.”
Violence and looting has been reported in a number of cities including Boston in recent days, following largely peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed 46-year-old Black man who died in Minneapolis after a white officer pinned his knee to his neck for several minutes, despite Floyd’s plea that he couldn’t breathe. The now-fired officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Dan McGowan of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Andrew Stanton contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.