Twenty-eight people were arrested in an overnight demonstration in Beverly Hills organized by the Black Future Project that was halted by police who declared it an unlawful assembly. The police cited a recently passed city ordinance banning most nighttime gatherings of 10 or more people.
The arrests, mostly for unlawful assembly, were made about 1 a.m. and included one suspect being arrested on suspicion of arson, Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Thomas West told City News Service.
“Apparently, the suspect was (attempting) to light a building or something on fire,” West said. (Another officer said the person was attempting to set a flag attached to a building on fire.) “They (the arrestees) are here at our station being processed. Once they are processed, they can be cited out. With 28 people, it’s just taking a while.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that demonstrators and the National Lawyers Guild objected to the Police Department’s initial plan to hold the protestors in jail until they were able to each post a bond of $5,000. The Beverly Hills Police Department later dropped that requirement and began slowly processing the release of the demonstrators, who face a misdemeanor charge. They also objected to the fact that the demonstrators still hadn’t been released as of 2 p.m. this afternoon.
““It is outrageous that during a statewide health crisis — and when, as we have been hearing from our local, state, and federal officials, the number of COVID-19 cases in California are continuing to rise — that the Beverly Hills Police Department would hold these peaceful protesters in custody,” said the National Lawyers Guild. “Keeping these men and women in custody will unnecessarily expose them to significant health risk and endanger their lives.”
Demonstrations began at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the area of Santa Monica Boulevard between North Alpine and North Rexford drives according to the Beverly Hills Police Department. About 100 protesters sat in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard at Rexford Drive, just before 8 p.m., which had an impact on traffic, police said.
The demonstration then moved northbound onto a residential portion of Rodeo Drive, north of Santa Monica Boulevard and stopped briefly at the Beverly Hills sign at Beverly Gardens Park, 9439 Santa Monica Blvd., the department said. From the park, protesters marched along Santa Monica Boulevard to Rexford Drive, then north on Rexford Drive to Carmelita Avenue, where police declared an unlawful assembly at 11:40 p.m.
At 1:10 .a.m., police announced protesters had left the city and that the unlawful assembly was ended and arrests had been made.
Beverly Hills, a predominately white city known for its affluence, has been aggressive in curbing demonstrations against police assaults on Black people since May 30, when a number of high end retailers on Rodeo Drive were vandalized and looted after a march into the city to protest the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer who had arrested and handcuffed him kneeled on his neck until Floyd stopped breathing. At one point the city put in place a 1 p.m. public curfew, which it since has lifted. On June 13, Beverly Hills banned nighttime gatherings of 10 or more people on residential streets and other public places in residential areas in response to two protests that “disrupted the tranquility” of a neighborhood.
West Hollywood has had several much bigger demonstrations and its Sheriff’ Station has issued citations for violating curfews but has made very few arrests.
The unlawful assembly proclamation, issued by City Manager George Chavez in his role as director of emergency services, came in response to a second night-time protest in a residential area conducted by the group Occupy Beverly Hills, which began at 10 p.m. on June 12 and continued until approximately 1 a.m., according to the proclamation.
The protest “included bullhorns and amplified music and disrupted the tranquility of the residential neighborhood during hours when many people would be ordinarily sleeping,” the proclamation said.
The order is in effect from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., and will remain in effect until further notice. Violating the order is punishable as a misdemeanor under the Beverly Hills Municipal Code, according to the proclamation.
Assemblies that are silent, such as candlelight vigils, and gatherings on private property, are exempt. The order defines an assembly as “any gathering or group of 10 or more people” on a public street, sidewalk, alley, park or other public place “if those 10 people have a common purpose or goal.”