Facing criticism from community advocacy groups and now from some members of the City Council, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday people arrested for curfew violations during recent protests against racism and police brutality “will not be required” to attend community education discussions to have their cases dismissed.
Feuer said he still plans to hold the community dialogue sessions, and “I strongly encourage protesters who were arrested to participate,” but he said attendance will not be mandatory. He also encouraged “protesters who were not arrested to join with us.”
“We evaluated a number of factors in deciding whether to make attendance at these events voluntary or mandatory for protesters who were arrested for these violations,” Feuer said. “On the one hand, for example, although I very much hope there is never a future need for another curfew in Los Angeles, if one is ever imposed, in whatever circumstances, it will be important that our residents take it seriously and comply with it.”
“In the end, however, the factors weighing in favor of voluntary participation in our program were more compelling, particularly given how unprecedented, indeed, absolutely extraordinary, the events of the last two weeks have been.”
Feuer said thousands of peaceful protesters whose “only offense” was a curfew violation, failure to disperse, failure to follow a lawful order or a similar violation, were arrested, but his office has not received referrals from the Los Angeles Police Department on the cases.
“By stark contrast, those who committed acts of violence, looting and vandalism must be held accountable,” Feuer said. “In many cases, the victims of those alleged crimes were businesses barely hanging on during the COVID-19 pandemic. My office already is prosecuting multiple such cases, with more in the pipeline.”
The Los Angeles City Council voted earlier Tuesday to consider a motion that would ensure that those cited for not dispersing while curfews were in place would not be required to attend the classes. The council also voted to consider another motion that would forgive fines imposed on people whose vehicles were impounded during the protests.
Councilman Mike Bonin, who introduced the motions along with Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, said making people go to some kind of LAPD education class on why they were cited for not dispersing during a curfew would be an “unnecessary burden.”
Prior to the city attorney’s announcement, the LAPD, Feuer and District Attorney Jackie Lacey had indicated they would not prosecute people who were cited during the protests for violating curfew, unless they committed vandalism or violence.
Bonin’s motion requests the City Attorney’s Office not pursue any criminal or financial penalties against individuals arrested for non-violent actions.
His other motion would have the police department release all vehicles impounded during the recent civil unrest without requiring payments from vehicle owners. Any costs regarding impoundment would be paid by the LAPD, if the motion is approved by the full council.