A Black man arrested while peacefully protesting in Santa Monica said he was driven to the outskirts of town and dropped off by police who told him not to return or he would be re-arrested, even though he lives in Santa Monica.
David Brown, 59, says he’s lived in Santa Monica more than 40 years, so he was shocked when police told him he couldn’t return to his home after he got arrested for violating curfew at the May 31 protest. He’s among many speaking out against police focusing on protesters instead of the hundreds of looters who ransacked downtown businesses.
Thousands were peacefully protesting following the in-custody death of George Floyd. While police were focused on protesters, a separate crowd of looters was smashing windows and stealing property from businesses blocks away.
He spoke with Buzzfeed News during the protest, and said he tried to leave after a curfew was put in place, but he and other protesters say they were given conflicting instructions from police, and were prevented from leaving.
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Then, as seen on cellphone video, Brown was pulled from the crowd by police and handcuffed and told he was being arrested for violating curfew.
“They snatched me up and grabbed me by my arm quite forcefully. Snatched me up and turned me around and I was like, 'Are you serious?'” he said.
Brown and others who were arrested were taken by police to a holding area to be processed. But what came next shocked Brown. He said they were driven to the outskirts of Santa Monica near a gas station and all of them, including white protesters, were told by police not to return.
Brown says he was offended.
“Do not come back to Santa Monica or we will arrest you.' I said, 'Wait a minute, I live in Santa Monica.' 'If you come back you will be arrested.' 'But it’s where I live!'” he recalled.
Brown eventually flagged down a driver and paid him $20 for a ride back to Santa Monica, where looting was still going on. He says he felt he had to sneak back into his own home.
Brown, who works as a Lyft driver, says even though Santa Monica is predominantly white, he’s always felt at home, and he welcomes calls by city officials to work with African Americans to address systemic racism in the city. He hopes he can be part of the conversation.
“I've been living here a long time. This is my home," he said.
NBCLA reached out to Santa Monica police Thursday by email and phone, but so far there has been no response. The Santa Monica City Attorney has said those arrested for curfew violations, like David Brown, will not be prosecuted.