The Santa Monica Police Department tweeted Thursday morning that they do not plan on issuing a curfew tonight after five consecutive days of curfews that ranged from the early afternoon to the late evening.
SMPD said the decision is in accordance with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department choosing to lift the curfew countywide. Many have criticized the curfews for giving law enforcement power to use weapons such as tear gas and less-than-lethal ammunition to stop peaceful demonstrations and arrest protesters.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said curfews were no longer necessary because recent protests have been peaceful. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the county and city of Los Angeles on the grounds that the curfews had infringed on the public’s constitutional right to protest.
“Based upon current situational awareness and the recent pattern of peaceful actions by protesters, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer enforce a curfew,” Villanueva wrote in a statement.
In Santa Monica, a peaceful protest began at 9 a.m. on Main Street with members of the City Council, Interim City Manager Lane Dilg and Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud in attendance. Hundreds of protesters calling for racial justice marched through the city, passing by City Hall.
The protest marks the first local direct action since Sunday, when looters used large protests as cover to break into hundreds of stores downtown and on Main Street.
Renaud took a knee with a group of protesters at the Ocean Park Branch Library. Santa Monica resident Jess Harbeck was next to the chief and the two had a brief conversation.
Harbeck said she has been part of protests every day in the past week and she wanted to march in Santa Monica to bring the attention to the local community.
“I feel it’s important to bring this to white communities and Santa Monica is a very, very white community and it’s time for white people to feel an ounce of the pain that black people are going through every day of their lives,” she said.
Harbeck, who works as a professional stuntwoman, said she supported the chief as a woman in a male-dominated field but wanted to talk to her about de-escalation tactics following Harbeck’s experience protesting in Santa Monica on Sunday.
“Women lead with empathy and I want her to use that empathy and do what they’re doing today with these protesters to not allow what happened Sunday to ever happen again,” she said.
On Sunday, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters near the Santa Monica Pier.
As of 11 a.m. on Thursday, the protest remained peaceful and police officers were escorting protesters along city streets while closing side streets to prevent cross traffic.
Other protests are planned Thursday throughout Los Angeles County, including in Hollywood and at UCLA.
The downtown Santa Monica Farmers Market will close Saturday in anticipation of more protests, city officials said Thursday morning.