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The National Lawyers Guild has announced that after the massive outpouring of public support for the George Floyd Solidarity protesters, the Los Angeles City Attorney has declared that he will not file any criminal charges against anyone arrested for protest or curfew related offenses -- with no conditions attached to that decision.

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According to the LA Times, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, also confirmed that her office will not prosecute the protesters arrested in connection with curfew violations or failure to disperse orders issued during the demonstrations associated with the killing of George Floyd.

And the Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, also issued a statement dated June 4, 2020 announcing that “based upon current situational awareness and the recent pattern of peaceful actions b protesters, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer enforce a curfew.

Although the Los Angeles City Attorney announced that he will not file any criminal charges, he has stated that he intends to employ a nonpunitive approach when dealing with the hundreds who were arrested.

Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”

Thousands of individuals and organizations signed a joint statement by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), Los Angeles County Public Defenders Local 148 and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles demanding the unconditional non-prosecution of all George Floyd Solidarity protesters.

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The ACLU and Black Lives Matter – LA filed a lawsuit asserting the curfews illegally suppressed constitutionally protected protests.

Although the Los Angeles City Attorney announced that he will not file any criminal charges, he has stated that he intends to employ a nonpunitive approach when dealing with the hundreds who were arrested. However, he has yet to develop this nonpunative approach.

Civil rights attorney, Carol Sobel, who has been in communication with the City Attorney stressed the importance of Mike Feuer’s office developing and disclosing the specifics of this “nonpunitive approach” as soon as possible as their continues to be concern in the community.

It should be noted that the LA Times reviewed the booking records for thousands of arrests associated with the George Floyd protests. They reported that the bulk of the approximately 2,500 arrests taking place in Los Angeles between Friday and Tuesday morning were of a mix of peaceful protesters and protesters engaged in property destruction. Still unclear is how many of those arrested will still be charged with criminal violations. Clarity on this won't be possible until the City Attorney makes his nonpunitive approach clear.

Although the announcements made by the City Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department set a precedent and are promising, the demonstrations in the streets arose because permanent system change is necessary, not just one-offs that apply solely to the George Floyd protests. Unless major changes are made in policy, we are likely to find ourselves back here again -- it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

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Sharon Kyle
Publisher, LA Progressive