A group of more than 40 BLM protesters who were arrested for breaking the local curfew during last year’s mass protests have had the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) file a suit on their behalf.
The ACLU claims that curfews are a violation of the First Amendment because they suppress all political protests during their given hours. The suit claimed that the curfews were “draconian” and a “tool of oppression” used by the government to suppress the truth and stifle political opposition to policing. It also adds that restricting movement outside of working hours is a violation of the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement.
The plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the purpose of the curfew “was to create a lasting, chilling effect on the lawful exercise of speech, stopping individuals from participation in peaceful assembly” and that “under the guise of action to stop looting, mass arrests were made of people committing no crime but speaking truth to power.”
The lawsuit also claims that mistreatment happened not only in Los Angeles but in unincorporated parts of the county such as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The suit alleges that police forces used the curfew to “trap protesters and enact sweeping arrests” without just cause. In a statement released by BLM – L.A.’s cofounder Melina Abdullah the organization said that “The City and County of Los Angeles are using these curfews to suppress Black Lives Matter – L.A.’s right to protest.” She said that the curfews were an attempt to “supress our ability to fully mobilize and focus full attention on the true issue of concern in the protests – police violence against black people.”
The organization went on to assert that the curfews prohibited activities such as “grocery shopping, recreational activities, visiting loved ones and in some cases even seeking medical treatment.” The countywide curfews had to be implemented after a weekend of violence which saw rioters attack the police, looted stores and vandalized public buildings, although the vast majority of those arrested were booked for non-violent offenses. Damage occurred in downtown L.A. and in the city’s Fairfax district and in the commercial hubs of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Many stores, particularly in the Santa Monica area which were targeted by the rioters still remain shut even now several months later.
ARTICLE: NATHAN REID
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LOS ANGELES TIMES