Lawsuit contends city tried 'to stifle political protest against police violence'
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles has sued the City of Santa Monica and its police chief over the ordered curfews that allegedly violated demonstrators' constitutional and civil rights during last year's protests over the killing of George Floyd, according to court papers.
The lawsuit, filed late week in Los Angeles federal court, alleges that the citywide curfew order issued on May 31, 2020 was a "tactic used to stifle political protest against police violence" and it hindered peaceful protesters who wanted to express their opposition to the police violence that resulted in the deaths of Floyd and other Black men and women in the country.
The plaintiffs also allege false arrest, assault and battery on behalf of more than 300 people who contend they were shot with projectiles by Santa Monica Police Department officers, targeted for arrest and transported to a makeshift jail before they were released in Los Angeles. They were also "warned they would be rearrested if they came back to Santa Monica," according to the suit.
The proposed class-action suit, which names the city, SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud and 10 as-yet unnamed officials as defendants, contends Santa Monica's "policies and failure of policies, including the failure to train its officers in constitutional responses to peaceful demonstrations, caused the unlawful action taken against plaintiffs."
While there was looting and vandalism in parts of Santa Monica during the demonstration, the criminal activity was not in the area of the protests, according to the lawsuit. SMPD and assisting agencies focused on the protestors and "tried to prevent the peaceful protests by instituting curfew orders on short order to take effect at varying times" on May 31 and June 1, 2020, BLM-LA contends in the suit.
The City Attorney's office and SMPD have not yet responded to the lawsuit.