LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA – A recent lawsuit brought on by more than 40 people who were arrested during last years’ protests and riots in Los Angeles County have filed a lawsuit.
They’re alleging that, among other things, imposed curfews were a violation of their First Amendment rights.
More than 40 people arrested in L.A. County for curfew violations during last summer's mass protests say in a new lawsuit that the curfews were unconstitutional and a coordinated tactic to stifle legitimate political speech against police violence.https://t.co/SyLCYPXBwL
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 2, 2021
In this newly crafted lawsuit, a myriad of accusations were levied that included allegations of, “assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligence and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and calls the curfew a ‘tool of oppression'”, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
The report stemming from the LA Times painted a rather sympathetic portrait of the plaintiffs’ case brought against the county, with staff writer Kevin Rector writing:
“Of 4,146 people arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department between May 28 and June 8, for instance, nearly 90% were for nonviolent offenses including curfew violations, failure to disperse or disobeying a lawful order.”
While Rector is correct in citing that “curfew violations, failure to disperse or disobeying a lawful order” are non-violent offenses – there are a lot more offenses that are considerably egregious while also being non-violent.
Prime examples of “non-violent” offenses that have occurred during the Los Angeles County riots and protests (and elsewhere across the country during that same time period) include the likes of looting and vandalism.
Yet, Rector craftily tried to lead unsavvy readers into thinking that 90% of all the arrestees apprehended by the LAPD between May 28th and June 8th during the riots were hemmed up for things like curfew violations, failure to disperse, and disobeying a lawful order.
Nonetheless, officials from the county have yet to comment on this lawsuit, as it standard practice to not discuss ongoing litigation.
But curfews were implemented in major cities across the country following the riots that unfolded in late May and early June – in fact, curfews were ongoing in several places during the height of concerns over the pandemic back in March and April of 2020.
Cities in New Jersey, Indiana, and even Florida had curfews established during the months of March and April of 2020 in response to the pandemic – and while lawsuits related to the pandemic have cropped up over the past year – those lawsuits usually pertained to forced closures of businesses and not because of curfews.
Furthermore, it is without question that curfews are perfectly legal to enact and enforce.
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) March 2, 2021
In an article published by Laws 101 back in August of 2020, the legality of curfews was detailed in a breakdown of the three types of curfews – emergency, business, and juvenile – and noted that people can be arrested in the event that they violate these laws.
But embedded in the lawsuit’s complaint, somehow curfews being imposed in Los Angeles County was tantamount to thwart the “lawful exercise of speech”:
“Its purpose was to create a lasting chilling effect on the lawful exercise of speech, stopping individuals from participation in peaceful assembly.”
The curfews imposed in Los Angeles County following the riots were hardly an effort to stifle lawful exercising of free speech, but were a direct response to civil unrest where stores were looted and vandalized, officers were met with combative crowds, and public buildings were targeted with destruction.
Which, emergency curfew laws allow state and local governments to place them into effect when instances of the aforementioned occur.
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Speaking of curfew-related topics, a woman in Canada recently earned herself a fine for violating a curfew in Quebec – but she at least attempted to find a creative way to subvert said curfew…by treating her significant other as a canine needing a walk on a leash.
Here’s that previous report.
SHERBROOKE, QUEBEC – Just when you thought you heard it all during the pandemic, one couple in Canada has raised the bar. The couple was fined for the woman “walking” her partner on a leash to get around a controversial pandemic curfew.
On Saturday, the province imposed a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in response to rising COVID-19 numbers. The curfew prohibits Quebec residents from leaving their homes during those hours but includes several exceptions.
— CTV Montreal (@CTVMontreal) January 13, 2021
One of the exceptions includes “a person who must go out so that his dog can do its business, within a radius of no more than one kilometer from the person’s place of residence or temporary residence.”
Police spotted the couple walking outside at approximately 9 p.m., shortly after the curfew went into effect. When confronted, the couple told the police they were not violating the curfew because the woman was walking her “dog.”
8pm curfew alarm in Quebec sounds like a zombie apocalypse. Could they not have found a better sound? pic.twitter.com/39gpAWoIM6
— Rob Martin (@WyteNight) January 10, 2021
The woman was walking her partner on a leash on King Street East in Sherbrooke. Police said the couple were not cooperative with the police and said they were happy to receive the fine.
Isabelle Gendron, spokesperson for Sherbrooke Police Service, said:
“The couple did not collaborate with the police at all. Statements of violation of the municipal by-law were given to them. The lady affirmed that she would not pay the ticket and even that she would accumulate them. The amount of the findings for recidivism can go up to $ 6,000 ($4,725.76 US).”
The couple was fined $1,500 each for the violation. During the first week of the curfew, Quebec police handed out 750 tickets fining people thousands of dollars. In Montreal alone, police issued 185 violations carrying fines of at least $1,000 each.
Anyone in Quebec caught outside between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. can face a hefty fine, with very few exceptions. Homelessness is not one of them. https://t.co/fCuodxMasT
— CBC News (@CBCNews) January 8, 2021
The curfew has been controversial in Quebec, especially a provision that made the curfew apply to homeless people. The Premier of Quebec, Francois Legault, claimed there were enough beds in Montreal to house the homeless. However, homeless shelter workers disagree.
Montreal Indigenous Community Network worker Amanda Moniz said:
“”There are absolutely not enough beds, and this response proves to us that the premier is completely out of touch with reality.”
Civil rights advocates have expressed concerns about the curfew. They claim the curfew is not supported by science, and they are concerned it will be enforced disproportionately against vulnerable people and on racial lines.
Every cell phone in Quebec, Canada just got this emergency alert: “police surveillance has been increased”. The curfew is an unconstitutional disgrace. We are opening a Quebec office of our https://t.co/94EkUTpA5G project and we will provide free lawyers in English & French. pic.twitter.com/8lvpiDCObS
— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) January 9, 2021
Canadian Civil Liberties Association Executive Director Michael Bryant said there are concerns the enforcement will target black, indigenous, homeless, and poor people:
“I think you’re going to see people being ticketed, basically, for being poor and homeless, not because they’re a public health risk.”
Public safety Minister Genevieve Guilbault said the curfew applies to everyone, regardless of background, and that anyone found on the street after 8 p.m. should expect to be stopped and questioned by police. She added:
officers will make individual decisions regarding enforcement and need to use discretion when deciding who gets ticketed:
“We don’t want to give fines just for the sake of giving fines. The main goal is to help them find a place in a shelter and help them in general and protect them.
— Cosmo Santamaria (@cosmoCTV) January 11, 2021
Montreal police (SPVM) issued a statement Thursday saying they will strictly enforce the curfew but will take people’s circumstances into consideration:
“The SPVM recognizes the seriousness of the current situation and the importance of ensuring compliance with the public health measures announced by the government. The SPVM will see to the deployment of the necessary staff for the rigorous application of these measures,” the force said in a statement.
“When the decree is sent to the SPVM, it will be the subject of an analysis by legal affairs in order to specify the scope of the police powers in connection with these new provisions.
“The SPVM would like to point out that a preventive and adapted approach will be favored for people in vulnerable situations, given the limits associated with judicialization in certain circumstances.”
SPVM said they performed 77 “interventions” with homeless people over the weekend but only handed out one ticket. SPVM spokesperson Jean-Pierre Bragant said:
“It was a special situation; it was a last resort. That person was arrested for drug possession.”
— CP24 (@CP24) January 6, 2021
Montreal police say the majority of stops were made before 11 p.m., and most of the fines were for around $1,000. Bragant said that the most expensive fines are reserved for organizers of unlawful gatherings such as “a church or a party.”
The curfew will remain in effect until February 8.
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