The Los Angeles branch of Black Lives Matter filed a federal lawsuit in California against the City of Santa Monica alleging that police used excessive force during violent protests that erupted last summer and arrested many so-called peaceful protesters without justification.
The lawsuit filed Monday also accused the Santa Monica Police Department of focusing on peaceful protests while looters were allowed free rein to ransack and vandalize stores and other businesses.
According to the lawsuit, so-called peaceful protesters were tightly handcuffed, and detained on a bus where they were allegedly denied access to a bathroom and denied food and water, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, business owners who watched as their livelihoods were damaged or destroyed, even with police standing by, were outraged by the response from now-former Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud on June 5, 2020, where she said broken windows and damaged buildings could be replaced, but broken lives couldn’t.
In her letter to the city, Renaud said her department had seen the social media posts and were prepared for peaceful protests, which occurred along Ocean Boulevard.
However, she also described the “new wave of criminal activity” that overwhelmed and overtook many of her officers and complained of the mainstream media’s complicity in showing the “unchecked looting” where objects were thrown at police, and violent protesters tried to pull an officer from his motorcycle.
“My first responsibility is to protect the lives of people in our community, and on Sunday, my priority was the preservation of life and protection of the city,” Renaud wrote. “But even with the help of our mutual aid partners, we realized we would not be able to save every storefront and every business. While we secured many sections of the downtown area and important community assets, every broken window, fire, and loss of goods hurts us and our community. ”
Santa Monica was one of the dozens of U.S. cities that experienced violent riots initiated by BLM and Antifa protesters, who used the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis Police custody, as an excuse to attack businesses in urban areas.
The lawsuit is the second filed in the state of California since March when BLM filed a similar lawsuit against Los Angeles County, citing the LAPD’s handling of protesters who violated the city’s curfew ordinance and took part in violent protests that erupted in May and early June.
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles claimed that the police violated the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights to protest.
“Its purpose was to create a lasting chilling effect on the lawful exercise of speech, stopping individuals from participation in peaceful assembly,” the plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in March. “Under the guise of action to stop looting, mass arrests were made of people committing no crime but speaking truth to power.”
Curfews were imposed throughout the region, and National Guard troops were deployed to guard area businesses, while law enforcement agencies made thousands of arrests.
The rioting in Santa Monica resulted in nearly 300 arrests for crimes such as arson, burglary, looting, vandalism, assaulting police officers, and damaging or destroying police vehicles.
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