Photo by Matthew Hall.

As law enforcement agencies across LA County have responded to recent protests, they have not always used appropriate and consistent public health practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on a motion that directs the Department of Public Health to immediately develop health guidelines for public protests.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the author of the motion, said, “Peaceful assembly is a cherished American right and we need policies and procedures that protect both protesters and law enforcement personnel. During the protests in Los Angeles over the last few days, not all law enforcement personnel were equipped with personal protective equipment. Protestors were detained without face masks and were not always able to maintain physical distancing. We must develop health policies and practices that reduce the risk of infection when people are exercising their First Amendment rights.”

The motion directs the Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Sheriff, and all other local law enforcement agencies in the County, to immediately issue guidance that includes health and safety measures for issuing citations, transporting protestors, and detaining protestors; recommendations regarding the use of cloth and/or other face masks; identify circumstances under which law enforcement should implement and allow for physical distancing; and advice on measures, such as the use of tear gas, that could negatively impact the spread of COVID-19.  The County Department of Public Health is also directed to consult with the Departments of Public Health in Pasadena and Long Beach to ensure consistent guidelines.

Submitted by Barbara Osborn, Communications Director for Sheila Kuehl

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