Los Angeles County extended its sweeping curfew for a fourth day — this time with reduced hours — as protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd continued across Southern California on Wednesday.
County officials opted to begin the curfew at 9 p.m., three hours later than previous nights. The curfew, which does not apply to law enforcement, first responders, people traveling to and from work and unsheltered individuals, will last until 5 a.m. Thursday.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said early Wednesday that officials were assessing whether to continue the curfew for another day, noting “big improvements from previous days” related to the protests.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn disagreed with extending the curfew. She said curfews may have been warranted on Sunday and Monday nights, but “now it seems like they are being used to arrest peaceful protesters.”
“I don’t think they are needed anymore,” she wrote on Twitter.
Demonstrations on Tuesday, which centered in Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, were largely peaceful compared with earlier demonstrations that devolved into the destruction and looting of businesses.
Hundreds more were arrested, mostly for violating curfew when protesters refused to leave. But initial reports showed far less looting and vandalism than in recent days.
Still, confrontations with police continued. Several dozen protesters were arrested downtown after refusing to leave after the 6 p.m. curfew.
On Wednesday, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Torrance and Culver City extended curfews in their cities for another day. The Santa Monica and Culver City curfews will be enforced from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Thursday. The curfew in Torrance will be enforced from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday.
In Beverly Hills, the city is imposing two curfews. The first, in the city’s business districts, will begin at 1 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. Thursday. The citywide curfew will begin at 4 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. Thursday.
The countywide curfew has sparked widespread criticism from protesters who see the action as an attempt to quell criticism of law enforcement. On Tuesday, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger requesting that she rescind or restrict the curfew order.
ACLU senior counsel Ahilan Arulanantham wrote in the letter that the U.S. Constitution does not permit the county to order such a sweeping restriction on free speech and travel to address “a few localized attacks on property.”
“We recognize that in the last few days some individuals have damaged and stolen property in areas where many others have engaged in peaceful protests, but that unlawful conduct cannot justify a state of emergency in the entire county that effectively places over 10 million people under house arrest for twelve hours every evening and morning,” Arulanantham wrote.
L.A. County wasn’t alone. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said a curfew would probably remain in effect in the capital through Sunday.
“We’re keeping it for a few days longer just to keep the community, including the protesters, safe,” he said. “If we continue to see peaceful demonstrations then we can start fresh next week.”
Though there has been little unrest since stealing and vandalism hit Sacramento’s downtown area and some suburbs on Sunday night, authorities have not indicated they plan to remove the order, and 500 National Guard troops remain in the city and county to protect critical sites.
The ACLU request comes amid the sixth day of planned protests across the region, including several in Orange County.
More than 100 protesters gathered in front of Anaheim City Hall on Wednesday morning for what was billed as a peaceful sit-in to honor Floyd, who died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to his neck.
Shortly before 11 a.m., the group laid down silently on the steps of the civic center for eight minutes to memorialize the amount of time the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.
In Los Angeles County, more than a thousand protesters, many holding signs reading “Black lives matter,” converged on the intersection of La Cienega and Santa Monica boulevards in West Hollywood Wednesday afternoon.
Cars driving by honked in support as protesters chanted Floyd’s name. Eventually, the crowd made its way into the street and knelt down, blocking traffic and chanting “I can’t breathe.”
Nick Atkinson repeatedly yelled at sheriff’s deputies about how they should be wearing masks, taking a knee and held accountable for their actions.
He said he has lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and wants to make it clear that killing black men and women is wrong.
“Where are your masks? Why aren’t you wearing your masks? You’re all paid to serve and protect us,” he yelled.
As marchers made their way through Hollywood Wednesday, the protest took on a festive atmosphere with many people handing out water, masks and hand sanitizer.
In Orange County, several hundred people had gathered along MacArthur Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach by 1 p.m. for the first of several planned demonstrations in the city.
Simran Gaglani, 23, of Irvine was among the crowd that gathered near Fashion Island to decry the death of George Floyd and denounce police brutality against people of color. Despite Orange County’s history as a haven for conservative politics in California and its embrace of law-and-order politicians, Gaglani said the demonstration highlighted what she believes is a progressive shift in the region’s political trajectory.
“It’s a new generation,” Gaglani said.
Fashion Island’s entrances on Wednesday were blocked with plastic barricades. Security guards stood sentry behind them. A line of Newport Beach police officers watched as protesters marched up and down the sidewalks of Pacific Coast Highway.
Two counterprotesters, waving American flags and a Thin Blue Line banner, were surrounded by demonstrators chanting, “Black lives matter.”
Another protest was scheduled Wednesday afternoon at the Newport Pier. Two others are scheduled later in the evening, one on the pedestrian bridge over San Miguel Drive at Civic Center Park near City Hall, and another at the Back Bay.
Past demonstrations have been met with a large police presence, and officials have raised concerns about looting and vandalism in their communities.
About 25 National Guard service members will deploy to protect the Westfield Mall in Culver City on Wednesday afternoon following several nights of people attempting to gain access to the shopping area to vandalize and loot, according to City Manager John Nachbar.
“Using significant resources, the Culver City Police Department and local law enforcement partners have been successful in fighting off these criminal attempts, including using methods such as using buses to block mall parking lot entrances,” Nachbar wrote in a letter to the community. “In the meantime, other criminals have burglarized or attempted to burglarize other retail stores around Culver City.”
Ten retail stores have been burglarized in the past several days, and other threats have been made to shops in Culver City, including stores at the mall and the city’s two Target locations, Nachbar wrote.
“These threats have come through social media, law enforcement intelligence, community members, other neighboring law enforcement agencies, and mall management,” he wrote.
Elsewhere in the county, reports of looting and vandalism appeared to be down compared with previous days. However, peaceful protests showed no signs of ending.
On Tuesday, hundreds gathered at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street to march through the streets in honor of Floyd. Eventually, the throng approached a line of several dozen officers holding batons.
“Let us walk,” the protesters yelled. Chants of “I can’t breathe,” among Floyd’s final choked words, echoed throughout the throng of demonstrators.
Aijshia Moody, 30, held a cardboard sign that read, “Am I next?” Her brother is 14 years old and has many times endured racial profiling in their hometown of Pacoima, she said.
“He can’t even get on his skateboard,” she said, adding that she’s dealt with racism throughout her life. “That’s why I’m here.”
A crowd surrounded police near Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in the early afternoon, after law enforcement received a radio call about armed looters, authorities said. Protesters began throwing bottles and sticks in response to a growing police presence. Officers then fired rubber bullets.
As police pushed the crowd down Ivar, they confronted two women in a red pickup. The driver did not want to stop or put her keys on the dashboard as police tried to pass by, officers said. She was quickly detained.
Authorities had taken about 2,500 people into custody from Friday to Tuesday morning after a mix of peaceful protests and property destruction rocked downtown, the Fairfax district, Van Nuys and Hollywood, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
Booking records reviewed by The Times show the vast majority of those arrested in L.A. County on looting, vandalism and burglary charges are county residents, seeming to refute perceptions that “outside agitators” were fueling unrest.
Heaven Bouldin, 25, said “it’s ridiculous” that so many protesters have been arrested when three Minneapolis officers who were present when Floyd died have yet to be held accountable.
“I’ve been protesting for the last 10 years. I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired,” Bouldin said. “My people have been getting killed for the last 200 years. We’re in 2020 and we still can’t bring an end to this…. Somebody has to do something.”
Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who used his knee to hold Floyd on the ground by the neck, was fired last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The other officers at the scene when Floyd died — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng — are being investigated for their roles.
About 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in the U.S. can expect to die at the hands of police, according to a 2019 analysis by Rutgers University researchers.
Protesters have demanded that society at large, and particularly those in power, acknowledge and take action against such manifestations of systemic oppression.
Walking alongside a crush of protesters in Hollywood, community organizer Pete White briefly stopped in front of a Chase bank branch to snap a photo of a scrawled message: “Chase yo dreams.”
“State violence brings me out here today,” said White, a South L.A. resident who turned 49 on Tuesday.
There is no peace without justice, he added.
“How do you get justice? By making sure you defund the police and take all of those resources and put it in schooling, put it in services, in housing, in universal healthcare,” White said. “We’re saying we don’t need another commission, another study or implicit bias training. We’ve been there and the same thing keeps happening. Again and again.”
At the downtown L.A. protests, many parents brought their children to experience the historic moment.
Khalil Bass, 30, and his wife brought their 6-month-old son.
Bass, a football player in high school and college, said he was repeatedly pulled over in Santa Clarita when he would drive his teammates somewhere and the police saw a car full of men of color.
“I don’t want him when he gets his driver’s license to be pulled over for no reason and have guns drawn on him,” Bass said of his son.
Wearing a short-sleeve shirt covered with photos of cats, Gianna Garcia said that people needed to know that the protesters were strong and powerful.
The 8-year-old was perched atop a slow-moving black Jetta with her legs dangling through the sunroof, holding one small clenched fist aloft — high above the sea of protesters stretching as far as the eye could see in either direction on Spring Street. In her other hand, a white foam board sign said, “#Charge All Four.”
Her mom, Maureen Maldonado, was in the backseat, holding a list of black people killed by police officers, too long to fit on a single piece of cardboard.
Maldonado said that she and her daughter had been protesting for four days. Coronavirus had “removed all types of childcare” from the 38-year-old office manager’s life, but she also believed that her daughter should be at the protests.
“At least for me, the only change I can make is that I shape my daughter the right way,” Maldonado said.
Just after 1 p.m. in Hollywood, dozens of activists chanted “Take a knee” at members of the National Guard. After several minutes, at least two Guardsmen complied. The crowd cheered.
Other protesters encountered a line of police officers and began chanting, “Walk with us,” and “Let us walk.” The group was trying to reach another crowd of demonstrators farther up Hollywood Boulevard, past Cherokee.
The marchers were met with a line of at least 20 LAPD officers who wouldn’t let them pass. As the group neared the line, their hands up, police began raising their batons to hold them back.
One protester placed a white flower in an officer’s pocket. The officer threw it to the ground.
Times staff writers James Queally, Matt Ormseth, Laura J. Nelson, Gustavo Arellano, Alene Tchekmedyian, Jaclyn Cosgrove, Anita Chabria, Laura Newberry and Sarah Parvini contributed to this report.