The death of George Floyd in police custody last summer sparked protests in cities across America from Santa Monica to New York. And with opening statements in a former Minneapolis police officer’s trial set to begin Monday, local police are ensuring residents that everything is under control.
It has been 10 months since Floyd was killed while handcuffed by Minneapolis Police but the tension from the events of last May haven’t waned much. As a result, staff recommended an urgency ordinance to City Council earlier this month that sought to prohibit the carrying of items that can be used as weapons, including poles, sticks, wood and metal pipes, which were used as weapons last year during the local May 31 riots.
Several cities, including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Covina, have adopted similar provisions, but local councilmembers opted to not consider the ordinance even though staff expressed uncertainty about when volatile protest activity may occur.
Interim Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks noted this week that Santa Monica and adjacent Westside communities have seen an increasing number of small demonstrations happening as the country approaches the trial of Derek Chauvin. As a result, Seabrooks thought it was important to take a moment this week to address local residents and share how the department is handling the situation.
“These events have largely gone unnoticed, even as your police department provided site safety and security,” Seabrooks said, mentioning SMPD will continue to provide security for these activities and remains committed to allowing the public to peacefully exercise its constitutional rights of freedom of speech, expression and assembly. “Now, as we turn our attention to the criminal trial of the former Minneapolis Police officer involved in the death of Mr. George Floyd, we understand you may have concerns about the safety of our community. I want you to know that the Santa Monica Police Department remains steadfastly committed to your safety and that of this community. Because planning is an integral component of the police department’s preparedness for any activity, we’re actively collaborating with our municipal, regional and state partners to ensure that we are well prepared.”
Safety and the protection of our community is job number one, Seabrooks added, so she found it important to highlight that the police department is diligently monitoring the events in Minneapolis and the local region for any leads.
“Currently, I’m pleased to report that thus far, there’s been no indication of any threats or other activities specifically focused on our community,” Seabrooks said. As the trial progresses, she’ll continue to outline the department’s safety plans. “I asked that if you see something suspicious, say so. Like masking up, it’s a matter of community safety.”