Number of Southern California Protest Arrests Remain Elusive

Los Angeles' two largest police agencies say they are unable to provide information about the number of demonstrators accused of violating curfew or dispersal orders.

Protesters Clash with Police

Nearly two weeks after demonstrators began rallying in the streets of Southern California – demanding systematic changes to the way law enforcement agencies operate – Los Angeles' two largest police agencies say they are still unable to report how many protesters were detained or arrested on curfew or other minor violations.

"Please check back with us Wednesday," replied a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesperson in response to NBCLA's request this week.

"At this time we do not have the numbers. Pls [sic] check back with us at a later time," said an LAPD officer fielding requests from the media.

Rough estimates provided by both departments put the number of misdemeanor arrests, the ones most commonly made as protests were forcefully cleared, at more than 2,600 by mid-week last week. Electronic jail records from the city of LA indicated that between May 28 and June 4, 2020 196 people had been held on misdemeanor curfew violations, though officials acknowledged Tuesday that was an incomplete number.

Both the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office announced Monday criminal charges would not be pursued against those arrested on the minor violations related to the demonstrations, but some of those detained say they were mistreated or subjected to excessive force and planned to take legal action against the city of LA.

A lawsuit seeking to represent the "class" of more than 2,600 demonstrators arrested or cited, and more than 10,000 others who were allegedly struck by, "so-called rubber bullets and/or baton strikes administered without lawful justification," was filed last week against the city of LA and LAPD Chief Michel Moore by the National Lawyers Guild and three other law firms.

The lead plaintiff in the case, the group Black Lives Matter, accused the city of holding demonstrators for long periods of time without access to bathrooms or water, and said the arrest and treatment of protest participants violated excessive force and civil rights laws.


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The LAPD declined to comment on the lawsuit allegations.

Records of hundreds of felony arrests on more serious charges, such as looting, arson, and assault, have been available because public records associated with those cases are shared among several agencies. The bulk of those felony bookings appeared to have occurred between Friday, May 29, and Monday, June 1.

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