L.A. District Attorney Declines to Charge Protesters Over Curfew Violations, Failure to Disperse

Robyn Beck / AFP
A mostly empty Hollywood neighborhood in Los Angeles.

"I believe whole-heartedly in free speech and support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully against historic racial injustice in our criminal justice system and throughout our nation," says Jackie Lacey.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Monday that it would decline to charge protesters arrested over the past two weeks on suspicion of curfew violation and/or failure to disperse. 

Both curfew violations and failure to disperse are misdemeanors, meaning it will be up to some city attorneys — including those in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Torrance, Burbank, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach — to determine whether to file charges. However, the L.A. County district attorney has jurisdiction over such misdemeanors in remaining cities and unincorporated areas. 

"I believe whole-heartedly in free speech and support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully against historic racial injustice in our criminal justice system and throughout our nation," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. "I want to encourage the exchange of ideas and work to establish dialogue between law enforcement and protesters so that we may implement enduring systemic change.” 

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has already suggested he will not charge those arrested for curfew violations or failure to disperse. On Monday afternoon, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he backed protesters not being charged. 

"I fully support @CityAttorneyLA 's decision not to prosecute or seek punishment for those who broke curfew or failed to disperse during the recent protests, unless those cases involve violence, vandalism or looting," the mayor said via Twitter. "This moment has the potential to bend the arc of our future toward a more fair and just city and country for everyone, if we're willing to seize it. I hope Angelenos will stay engaged in the cause to bring transformational progress."

The county was under a mandatory curfew for days after looting and destruction broke out while protesters were trying to hold peaceful movements around SoCal in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd. 

At one point, Garcetti requested the deployment of the National Guard, which was so ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom. However, the Guard has since vacated the city, save for a small unit on standby in case of issues. 

1:40 p.m.: Updated with comments from Mayor Garcetti.