Dear Mayor Horvath, Mayor Pro Tempore Heilman, City Manager Arevalo,City Clerk Quarker,City Attorney Jenkins, and Councilmembers D’Amico, Duran,and Meister,
As we are all aware, America is at a crossroads and not for the first time.Over the course of our complicated history,America arrived atmomentssuch as theseand all too often, the clarifying waterof time hasshown that we, as a nation, have failed; have turned our collective back on the very citizens most in need.
I, like you, have the privilege to live in West Hollywood. I revel in the beauty of this city and regularly run through the streets, to both exercise and gain a greater connection to the community in which I reside. It was on one of these runs this pastSaturday, that I traversed Fairfaxand Melrose. Never before had I felt tension such as I did that evening; the pain and anger of so many, thequintessenceof which has been echoing throughout our history, was palpable.
What transpired in our community along Fairfax and Melrose on Saturday, May 30, 2020 was nothing short of heart-wrenching. So many locally owned businesses were wantonly looted and destroyed. However,ofwhat we cannot lose sight are the immense protests thatpreceded these transgressions and the societal wrongs that precipitated them.
In reaction to the events of May 30, 2020,the City ofWest Hollywood(“the City”)enacted Executive Order No. 2020-5(the “Order”). It states that“toprotect the peace, health, and safety of the public, and to protect life and property . . . this Order . . . imposes a[4:00 p.m.] curfewto restore the peace and prevent additional disturbances, looting, [and] violence.. .”
The impetusfortheseprotests is that in almost every corner of this country, during “normal” times, people of color are not provided the same “peace, health, and safety” that white people are provided.As an attorney,I do not question the legal authority that providesthe Citythe power to enact such a curfew.Though, I do assert that basedoffthe optics of the demographics of our community and the actual implementation of thecurfew over the past few days, I do controvert the stated reasoning of this curfew, specificallyone aspect:that this is meant to protect public safety.It is becoming more apparent that the Order is being used to suppress thevoice and First Amendment Rightsof thedowntrodden anddisenfranchisedto protect the property of the business owners of West Hollywood.
I am a white man that comes from a privileged background. This city government is widely comprised of white individuals.Statistics show that West Hollywood is 80-85% white. Beyond this, we live in an affluent community, with extremely low crime rates and a high standard of living. Thus, most of us never have to see, hear, or feel the pain, frustration, and injustice that has sparked theseprotests.
From my vantage point, so many of these protests are being held in traditionally white and affluent communities because that is where so many people who have power—whether that be politically, financially, or socially—reside.Real change will only occur once people within these communities hear the protestors’voices, feel, as best they can, the protestors’anguish, and decide to align themselves with the protestors; making sure thateveryonecomestogether and, with one voice, demand that change, once and for all, will finally come.
The Order claims that “[t]he City seeks to be an ally in the fight against racial injustice and the dismantling of systematic racism.” However, onlya few passing sentencesmake any reference to suffering and injustice that gave rise to the protests. The rest of the Order, which comprises almostthree full pages, focuses entirely on the looting that occurred on May 30, 2020 and thebelief that thereexistfurther threats toproperty andpublic safety.
The Order states that “[w]ith liberty comes responsibility,” but governance carries withit its own responsibilities;chief among those is to weigh the costs and benefits of every decision, such as when aCity enacts a curfew to benefitpropertyand safetyat the cost of free speech and assembly.
What I find concerning about the Order is that it makes direct reference to the fact that Los Angeles has established a 6 p.m. curfew, but provides absolutely no direct justification as to why West Hollywood requires the enactment of a curfew a full two hours prior to Los Angeles. This complete lack of justification, particularly when compared to Los Angeles, which is remarkably more at risk of threats to public safety and civil unrest, makes one question why the 4 p.m. curfew was chosen. Was it chosen after careful deliberation and consideration of the free speech and assembly rights of the protestors against the potential safety concerns of further protests? Or was it hastily done in wake of heartbreaking looting and vandalism of local businesses?
It is likely thatmany of the protestors that were here on May 30 were not residents of West Hollywood. However, that does not mean they do not have a right to be heard and assemble on our streets and within our community.The enactment of a 4 p.m. curfew, taking in mind how long it takes a protest to gather, assemble, be heard, and finally disperse, essentially hassquelched any possibility oflarge, publicassembly. I pray that this was not impetus of enacting a 4 p.m. curfew. Because if it is, the City’sclaims “to be an ally in the fight against racial injustice and the dismantling of systematic racism” ring hollow.
The City has not provided sufficient justification to essentially quash the citizenry’s right to assemble by imposing a 4 p.m. curfew.Thus, I respectfully request that the City of West Hollywood re-examine the Order, its reasoning, and extend the daily curfew until at least 6 p.m. until the need for a curfew no longer exists.
Scott D. Dyle, Esq.