Last Tuesday evening, LAPD helicopters circled the Larchmont neighborhood for upward of two hours. Cops in riot gear marched down residential streets and established a tactical presence throughout the area from the early evening well into the night. The individuals they were intent on apprehending were protesters who’d violated that evening’s curfew and had fled to a nearby rooftop when officers closed in.
Despite last week’s fervor, local law enforcement officials announced Sunday that they won’t charge or fine the hundreds of peaceful protesters that have been arrested during recent protests. The announcement came after the ACLU and Black Lives Matter filed a lawsuit against last week, claiming that the curfews were illegal and suppressed people’s right to peacefully protest. The day the suit was filed, the Los Angles Sheriff’s Department announced it would no longer be imposing curfews.
So how will those arrestees’ cases be handled? City Attorney Mike Feuer said that curfew violation cases will be handled “outside of the courts” and will “productive rather than punitive.” In a statement he said, “I strongly believe in the value of peaceful protest, and this vital cause deserves the urgent attention of all Americans. Consistent with these values, last week we began developing an approach, outside of the courts, to address curfew violation matters. As we’ve done with previous protest cases, it will be designed to be productive, rather than punitive. I’ll offer more details early next week.”
Comments from LAPD Chief Michel Moore indicate that they’re leaning toward leniency for people not suspected of vandalism. More details are expected on Monday, but the LAPD has said, “Ultimately, persons who committed significant crimes such as looting, burglary, robbery, vandalism, arson, and assault with great bodily injury will be held accountable for their actions during the past days.”
Since the protests against police violence began last weekend, the LAPD has faced harsh criticism for the way its officers have treated peaceful demonstrators. Footage has shown officers beating protesters with clubs, deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, and in one instance even colliding with a protester with a police vehicle. A Los Angeles reporter was detained (and subsequently released) when police boxed in the group of protesters he was traveling with.
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