About a half-dozen people were arrested last night for violating a countywide curfew and other offenses following a demonstration against police brutality in Palm Desert, sheriff’s officials confirmed Tuesday.
At its height, the peaceful demonstration in response to the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis comprised nearly 500 protesters, who met near Palm Desert City Hall on Monday afternoon before marching toward the city’s upscale shopping district where they were met by sheriff’s deputies clad in riot gear.
Despite unverified reports of planned demonstrators from out of the area set to be bused in to cause trouble, no violence was reported.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and jail records, most of the arrests occurred more than two hours after the 6 p.m. countywide curfew set in for everyone but essential workers, in response to weekend protests throughout Southern California that occasionally devolved into instances of rioting and looting.
The protest group eventually turned away from venturing into the El Paseo area, and shortly thereafter dissipated, although a few stragglers remained in the streets as the night wore on.
Sheriff’s officials said a reputed gang member was caught carrying drugs, body armor and a gun at about 8 p.m. in the area of El Paseo and Portola Avenue.
The convicted felon was arrested by law enforcement personnel with the Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force who were patrolling the area, along with an 18-year-old from Desert Hot Springs who police said had a hammer hidden in his backpack.
No other non-curfew related arrests were reported.
According to jail records, three other men ages 19-24 were also arrested on suspicion of breaking the countywide curfew. Records indicated they spent the night at the Indio jail before being released on $2,500 bail Tuesday morning, although jail staff could not immediately be reached for confirmation.
The city of Palm Desert on Tuesday lauded organizers over social media for keeping the event peaceful, and also thanked sheriff’s deputes for working cooperatively with the demonstrators.
Riverside County officials announced early Monday that a countywide curfew would be in effect from 6 p.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Tuesday, forcing protest organizers in Palm Desert to start an hour earlier than originally planned.
The protest was originally set to take place at Palm Desert’s upscale El Paseo shopping district before organizers changed the meeting location to Palm Desert Civic Center Park over fears of rioting and looting.
In Palm Springs earlier Monday, upward of 50 demonstrators gathered on a downtown street corner, where no problems or arrests were reported.
Some Palm Springs police officers handed out free water bottles to participants as the temperature hit the mid-90s, while others watched the scene from a nearby rooftop.
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