Amid an apparent easing of protests, the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department are coming under sharp criticism from UCLA for using the university’s Jackie Robinson Stadium as a “field jail” for arrested protesters and systematically breaching anti coronavirus measures in the process.
The LAPD used the stadium to house protesters who were arrested Monday for curfew violations following protests of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“We’re troubled by accounts of Jackie Robinson stadium being used as a ‘field jail,”’ the university tweeted about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. “This was done without UCLA’s knowledge or permission. As lessee of the stadium, we informed local agencies that UCLA will NOT grant permission should there be a request like this in the future.”
Faculty members claimed police put protesters arrested in downtown Los Angeles and Westwood on sheriff’s department buses and brought them to the stadium, which is also being used as a COVID-19 testing site.
“All protocols of social distancing were violated by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and LAPD with protesters deliberately crowded into buses and officers not following rules and recommendations established by the City, the County, and the CDC, including wearing masks,” stated a letter signed by 59 members of the UCLA faculty.
“When protesters were taken off the buses, they were subject to processing in the parking lot of the stadium and then released, which meant that they were directed to find their way home late at night (between 1:30 am and 3:30 am) from the Jackie Robinson Stadium. Without working cell phones and under conditions of curfew, this was a near impossible task…”
Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission Tuesday morning that 2,700 people were arrested since the protests began last week, the vast majority of them for violating curfew. About 10% of the arrests were for looting. He also said more than 60 LAPD vehicles had been damaged during protests, including some that were burned.
At least another 120 to 150 people were taken into custody on Broadway between Fifth and Fourth streets in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night and at least dozens were arrested in the area of Van Ness Avenue and Rosewood Avenue in Hollywood, where some had gone onto an apartment building rooftops in an apparent attempt to avoid police.
Some agitators pushed their way into an apartment building near Broadway and Fifth Street and onto the roof, where they allegedly threw objects at officers on the street.
They will not be charged with curfew violations because they were inside the building, and Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Tim Kaulkus told KCAL9 officers planned on removing them from the building and releasing them.
As of Tuesday evening, there were no major reports of violence or looting of the type that occurred over the past several days.
Protests — all of them peaceful — took place in downtown Los Angeles, near City Hall, in Hollywood and outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence in Hancock Park.
Hours into Tuesday’s peaceful protests, the LAPD tweeted, “This afternoon we saw the best of Los Angeles. Thousands of demonstrators marched in solidarity. We will continue to facilitate everyone’s First Amendment right to assemble peacefully… we will continue to listen, learn, and grow.”
The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, reported that, after days of looting and vandalism and a barrage of criticism for failing to stop it, Los Angeles police have significantly increased their presence in affected neighborhoods and deployed more aggressive tactics to arrest those responsible for burglarizing businesses. Police also have enforced overnight curfews to sweep streets clear in startling, militaristic shows of force, at times without any apparent effort to distinguish between passive bystanders and those engaged in crime.
“When violence escalates, including assaults on officers, arson, widespread looting … the department needs to resort to a stronger message,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday.
Assistant Chief Robert Arcos, The Times reported, added in an interview that “We are not going to stand for looting. We are doing all we can to make arrests immediately.”
The shift in strategy contrasts with what was seen earlier in the weekend, when officers allowed looting downtown and in the Fairfax area to go unchecked for hours as they squared off with protesters, The Times reported.
Beverly Hills police also reported a peaceful protest just before midday on Santa Monica Boulevard near Canon Drive, while other demonstrations were held in Manhattan Beach, Costa Mesa and Yorba Linda.
In Orange County, four separate Black Lives Matter protests were scheduled for Wednesday in Newport Beach and at least another six protests were planned throughout the county, according to Newport Beach police Chief Jon Lewis.
The scheduled events are:
— Noon at MacArthur Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway;
— 2 p.m. at the Newport Pier;
— 5 p.m. at San Miguel Drive and Avocado Avenue;
— 5 p.m. at Back Bay View Park, Jamboree Road and Pacific Coast Highway.
Tuesday’s gatherings began hours after a countywide curfew was lifted at 6 a.m., and hours after hundreds of arrests were made in Hollywood, Westwood and the San Fernando Valley, mostly of people ignoring the county and city curfews as they staged protests.
Los Angeles County imposed another countywide curfew at 6 p.m., continuing until 6 a.m. Wednesday. It was the third straight night of a countywide curfew. Los Angeles and Long Beach also issued curfews for the same hours.
Santa Monica imposed a citywide curfew beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday, while Beverly Hills instituted a curfew at 1 p.m. Culver City imposed a curfew at 4 p.m. All of those curfews will remain in place until 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday sent a letter to the city and county of Los Angeles, claiming the curfew orders exceed their authority and represent a violation of First Amendment rights to free speech.
“… A community’s right to protest day or night may not be infringed merely because some people have acted unlawfully in certain areas of the county,” according to the ACLU letter.
Garcetti on Tuesday night defended the curfews.
“I need to protect all Angelenos,” he said. “I need to protect protesters. I need to protect our police officers. And we saw dangerous, dangerous situations that almost resulted in death, and I won’t let that happen.”