LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The ACLU Foundation of Southern California Wednesday filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, journalists, protesters and others impacted by curfews imposed throughout the region after widespread protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The ACLU alleged that the curfews violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that the restrictions on movement outside working hours violated the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement.
“The city and county of Los Angeles are attempting to use these curfews to suppress Black Lives Matter – L.A.’s right to protest,” Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of BLM L.A., said in a statement. “They are attempting to suppress our ability to fully mobilize and focus full attention on the true issue of concern in the protests — police violence against Black people.”
According to the ACLU, the curfews also prohibited people from going grocery shopping, taking part in recreational activities, visiting loved ones and, in some cases, seeking medical treatment. The ACLU also said the widespread curfews have made it difficult for journalists to fully report stories.
The curfews have also prohibited a massive swath of entirely innocuous activity, including grocery shopping, recreational activities, visiting loved ones, and in some cases even seeking medical treatment, the ACLU said.
And, according to the ACLU, curfew orders have made it extremely difficult for many journalists — already under siege by police at rallies — from being able to fully report their stories.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in L.A. on behalf of BLM-LA and individual plaintiffs, including:
- Kimberly Beltran Villalobos, a student cited for curfew violations in both unincorporated L.A. County, where she lives, and in downtown L.A., where she was peacefully protesting. The ACLU said one citation came when Villalobos was moving her car to avoid a parking ticket.
- Tom Dolan, the executive director of Inland Congregations United for Change, who the ACLU said was leading students in a peaceful protest that tried to follow the curfew rules, but the rules kept changing. Dolan lives in San Bernardino.
- Lexis Olivier Ray, a housing and justice reporter for L.A. Taco who the ACLU said has been covering the protests and has observed other journalists being detained and arrested for violating the curfew while doing their jobs and fears he will be arrested.
- Eric Stith, a software engineer who the ACLU said lives miles away from any civil unrest in Palmdale and simply wished to be able to go outside at night.
“These unconstitutional curfews have suppressed a huge amount of important political protest activity and disrupted the lives of over 10 million people,” Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel of the ACLU SoCal, said. “The curfews must end now.”
Defendants named in the lawsuit include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and San Bernardino police Chief Eric McBride.
The full lawsuit can be read online.