West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo has declared a curfew, ordering residents and visitors in West Hollywood to stay at home and businesses to close from 8 p.m. until sunrise. People are allowed to drive to work. The curfew will be in effect until Arevalo announces the lifting of it, which means it could continue through the weekend.
The curfew comes as thousands of people in the Fairfax District and West Hollywood have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd and other acts of violence against African-Americans by law enforcement officers. Floyd died on Monday after an altercation in Minneapolis with a police officer who kneeled on his neck while Floyd, who was handcuffed, screamed that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd had been arrested for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase at a deli. A video of the incident went viral and has sparked protests across the nation. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared a similar curfew as have the mayors of Beverly Hills, Culver City, Glendale, and Pasadena.
The demonstrations in and around West Hollywood were mostly peaceful, although multiple businesses were vandalized and some looted, according to Capt. Edward Ramirez of the West Hollywood Heriff’s Ststion. “We have made almost 30 arrests for burglary, vandalism, and curfew violations. There have been no structure fires,” Ramirez said. “There are no injuries to deputy personnel and no patrol vehicles were damaged. We have additional deputy personnel from the Sheriff’s Department to supplement our patrol function. We are committed to protecting our West Hollywood community.”
The protests became more violent in some instances outside of WeHo and there has been looting of many stores on Melrose Avenue and Fairfax Avenue by people taking advantage of the fact that law enforcement officers had to focus on the protests. The Tony-K shoe store on Melrose near North Stanley Avenue was set on fire. At a massive rally on Third Street at Fairfax near the Beverly Grove shopping center, a Los Angeles Police Department car was set on fire, sending thick clouds of smoke into the air. Nearby demonstrators had taken over a Metro bus. It was marked with slogans like ACAB, which stands for “all cops are bastards,” and “black lives matter.” Young demonstrators stood on top of the bus waving signs. Demonstrators also stood on top of and kicked the sides of another burned LAPD vehicle on Fairfax Avenue at Beverly Boulevard.
On Third Street, Los Angeles Police Officers fired riot guns loaded with rubber bullets in an effort to push demonstrators back. At one point they marched into a parking lot on Third Street just west of Mendocino Farms to force the force demonstrators to leave. The officers were aggressive. One armed police office knocked this writer to the ground and kicked him in the chest while the writer was trying to photograph the officers advancing on those in the parking lot. The demonstrators in the parking lot held signs and chanted but didn’t display any violent action. It was unclear why the demonstrators were forced to leave.
The demonstrators also marked a lot of storefronts with graffiti, particularly on La Cienega and Beverly boulevards.
A majority of those participating in the rallies and marches appeared to be in their early 30s or younger. And a majority appeared to be Caucasian, with some of those carrying signs attacking “white supremacy.” “White supremacy is the virus. #blacklives matter” read one sign held by a young woman sitting in Sal Guariello Park.
Some of the demonstrators also carried signs criticizing Donald Trump. One young man held a sign saying “Jackie Lacy is a fraud,” which was referring to the L.A. County District Attorney, an African-American woman who has been criticized for not vigorously pursuing a case against Ed Buck, the white West Hollywood resident in whose apartment two black men have died of drug overdoses. Lacey also has been criticized for what some see as a reluctance to prosecute law enforcement officers for alleged crimes.