Upwards of 50 demonstrators gathered in downtown Palm Springs Monday, many of them chanting “Black Lives Matter,” in response to death of George Floyd, whose police custody death in Minneapolis on Memorial Day has sparked civil unrest nationwide.
The demonstration was organized by the Coachella Valley arm of the advocacy group Courageous Resistance, with no problems reported as of mid-afternoon.
“If you see injustice, you need to do something about it,” an unnamed organizer told KESQ as he held a sign reading “Silence = Complicacy.”
“If you are silent in the face of injustice, you become part of that injustice yourself,” he said.
Palm Springs police were on hand keeping an eye on the demonstrators, with some officers handing out free water bottles to participants as the temperature hit the mid-90s, while others watched the scene from a nearby rooftop.
According to Palm Springs police Sgt. Mike Casavan, no barricades were set up as the protest was expected to remain peaceful, although the department warned on social media that officers would be ready to respond in the event of any violence.
Another demonstration, this one in Palm Desert, is set to begin at 4 p.m. at Palm Desert Civic Center Park near Palm Desert City Hall. The gathering was pushed up an hour from the original 5 p.m. start time due to a countywide curfew set to kick in at 6 p.m.
The curfew forced organizers of a vigil set for this evening at an Indio park to postpone their event. No future date was released.
Organizers of the Palm Desert demonstration asked people to meet at Palm Desert Civic Center Park, and requested would-be protesters to remain peaceful and wear masks in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We are in no way, shape, or form promoting violence,” an unverified Instagram post from an account called coachellavalleyactivists reads.
The protest was originally set to take place at Palm Desert’s upscale El Paseo shopping district. That gathering was subsequently relocated by organizers to Palm Desert City Hall.
In a subsequent post, organizers addressed unverified reports that demonstrators from out of the area were set to be bused in “with the intention of looting and rioting.”
“We have no contact with them, we are not even aware of who they are,” according to the post.
Even prior to the location change of the demonstration, many local business owners along El Paseo weren’t taking any chances. Mindful of destruction waged in other shopping districts in Southern California, they installed protective plywood barriers over their shop windows.
Riverside County officials announced on Monday that a countywide curfew would be in effect from 6 Monday evening through 6 Tuesday morning for everyone but essential workers in response to weekend protests throughout Southern California morphed into instances of rioting and looting.
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