LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A group of people protesting against police brutality slept this morning in Grand Park, across the street from Los Angeles City Hall, as more protest marches and rallies were planned throughout the city.
Protesters in five tents planned to stay in place.
“Just like they did on Wall Street, because we want them to know that every single day and every single night we will be here until our message is heard and until there is change,'' protester Jose Gomez told ABC7.
Events planned in Los Angeles and Orange County included:
-- 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Black Lives Matter will protest at the corner of Campus Road and York Boulevard in Highland Park;
-- Noon - 4:30 p.m. a protest on the grass field outside Norwalk City Hall, 12700 Norwalk Blvd.;
-- 1 p.m. A High Schoolers for Black Lives Matter march from Veterans Park, 4117 Overland Ave., in Culver City to the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division station, 12312 Culver Blvd.;
-- 3 p.m., protesters will rally at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Lucile Avenue;
-- In Orange County, a rally is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in front of the YMCA at 29831 Crown Valley Parkway in Laguna Niguel.
The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office announced Monday that thousands of people arrested for curfew violations during the past week of protests won't be facing criminal prosecution, with plans being developed for a more education-based resolution of cases.
“Peaceful protest is profoundly important, and these protests have rekindled a long-overdue effort to change hearts, minds and institutions. We can't let this moment pass as we have too many times before,'' City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. “As we move forward, our restorative approach to these cases will bring protesters, law enforcement and other voices from our community together to foster the mutual empathy, understanding and respect that are essential to building a better version of our city.''
Specific details of the diversionary programs were still being developed, but according to Feuer's office, the effort will involve a “menu of programs employing different formats,'' including discussions of steps that can be taken by the community “to address issues relevant to these protests.''
“Our hope is that this restorative justice approach will be an ingredient in deepening the mutual empathy, understanding and respect that our city needs -- perhaps serving as a model for other jurisdictions as well,'' according to Feuer's office.
The diversionary programs will be offered to people arrested solely for curfew violations -- not those suspected of violence, looting or vandalism.
The decision follows complaints by some of those arrested that they spent hours in plastic handcuffs in crammed buses without justification, leaving them with injuries and potentially exposing them to the coronavirus. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Black Lives Matter L.A. claims the curfews illegally suppressed constitutionally protected protests and violated people's freedom of movement.
The day after the lawsuit was filed last week, Los Angeles County and most Southland cities stopped imposing curfews, saying the protest marches had become noticeably more peaceful, absent the violence and looting that marred some of the gatherings early on.
An ACLU attorney said Feuer's decision to seek an alternative to prosecution for curfew violators does not resolve all the concerns outlined in the lawsuit, saying all charges against them should simply be dropped.
“Given what we have seen this week with respect to how LAPD enforced the curfew -- the many videos and news reports of excessive force and ambush tactics -- any move by the city attorney to force people to defend themselves against curfew charges would be tantamount to sanctioning police repression,'' Adrienna Wong, senior staff attorney at the ACLU, told the Los Angeles Times.
That sentiment was echoed in a joint statement issued Monday by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Community Action Network, National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Public Defender Union.
“While we welcome this first step, we demand that the Los Angeles city attorney decline to file any charges against anyone protesting police violence and standing in solidarity with the black community – without conditions,'' according to the groups.
Rachel Steinback, a civil rights lawyer and representative of the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles' Mass Defense Committee, argued curfew cases should be dismissed outright.
“The arrestees are protesters who were engaging in protected speech. They were largely arrested for curfew violations, which the city attorney's office knows is illegal, and the notion that the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles City Attorney are going to require these protesters to engage in communications about race, racism and police violence in exchange for dismissals is unacceptable to us,'' Steinback said.
“It is the police who need educating,'' Steinback said. “The black community in Los Angeles has been reaching out to the city, the county and the police department for decades asking to be heard. We appreciate that the city and the county are responding with an interest in talking, but our protesters should not be compelled to engage in discussions in exchange for dismissals of cases that should not be brought.''
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he supports the effort to resolve the curfew cases outside court.
“Resolving these violations through alternative methods is a productive and appropriate way to address these offenses, and will have lasting positive effects on our community,'' he said in a statement. “I fully support this approach to criminal justice reform, and will work closely with the City Attorney's Office to ensure it is successful.''
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, whose office would handle curfew violations in parts of the county without their own local prosecutor's office, said her office will not pursue charges for people arrested on curfew violations or failure to disperse.
Memorial services were being held Monday in Houston for George Floyd -- who died after being pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who placed his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.
In the Southland, four funeral-like processions were held in honor of Floyd, beginning in South Los Angeles, Long Beach, Reseda and Orange County. The four processions made their way to downtown Los Angeles, where they converged for a midday gathering at First Street and Broadway.
Photos: Getty Images