LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A heated virtual town hall meeting Thursday had downtown Los Angeles residents up in arms about whether a curfew should be enforced on election night in an effort to prevent looting.
“It affects everyone negatively, including yourselves, because you’re limiting everyone’s First Amendment rights to protest,” one resident said.
The meeting was held after the board of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council drafted a letter that would ask city leaders to enforce a curfew and crackdown on large crowds gathering on election night.
The board said the goal of the letter was to prevent more looting, like what happened after the Lakers won their 17th NBA Championship earlier this month and the Dodgers won their seventh World Series title earlier this week.
Several businesses were heavily damaged and local activists said they were fed up.
“We do understand there’s an impending election coming on Tuesday, but we have had hundreds and hundreds of local residents in downtown reach out to us saying that there’s something that needs to be done,” Marcus Lovingood, a board member, said.
The council held the Zoom call to hear directly from residents who, for the most part, were against the proposed curfew, saying that it would disenfranchise voters and go against the constitutional rights of people to protest.
“It’s not right to allow, to take away our rights to amass peacefully and protest,” another resident said.
“It’s hilarious that a group of people would willingly give up their First Amendment rights when the president is doing that already for us,” a different resident said.
And while the majority of residents and concerned citizens on the call were against the letter supporting the curfew, some said they believed it was a good idea.
“I don’t think this was made as a malicious attempt to suppress anyone, I think it was done very hastily and it could have been thought out a little bit better,” one resident said.
“What we want to do is protect our businesses and the people who live here from more violence, from more graffiti, from more rioting,” Patti Berman, council president, said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said it was committed to ensuring the public’s safety and issued a statement that read, in part:
“The LAPD is communicating with our local and state emergency partners to coordinate our response and plan for nay protests or groups that might become violent. The department has modified deployment to ensure a sufficient number of officers will be available to work evenings and into the weekend.”
It was not immediately clear whether a curfew would be established once the polls close.