LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Amid an apparent easing of protests, the Los Angeles Police Department and LA County Sheriff’s Department are coming under sharp criticism from UCLA for using the university’s Jackie Robinson Stadium as a “field jail” for arrested protesters and systematically breaching anti-coronavirus measures in the process.
The LAPD reportedly used the stadium to house protesters who were arrested Monday, June 1, for curfew violations following protests of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“We’re troubled by accounts of Jackie Robinson stadium being used as a ‘field jail,’” the university tweeted about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2. “This was done without UCLA’s knowledge or permission. As lessee of the stadium, we informed local agencies that UCLA will NOT grant permission should there be a request like this in the future.”
Faculty members claimed police put protesters arrested in downtown Los Angeles and Westwood on sheriff’s department buses and brought them to the stadium, which is also being used as a COVID-19 testing site.
“All protocols of social distancing were violated by the LA County Sheriff’s Department and LAPD with protesters deliberately crowded into buses and officers not following rules and recommendations established by the city, the county, and the CDC, including wearing masks,” stated a letter signed by 59 members of the UCLA faculty.
“When protesters were taken off the buses, they were subject to processing in the parking lot of the stadium and then released, which meant that they were directed to find their way home late at night (between 1:30 am and 3:30 am) from the Jackie Robinson Stadium. Without working cell phones and under conditions of curfew, this was a near impossible task…”
Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission Tuesday morning that 2,700 people were arrested since the protests began last week, the vast majority of them for violating curfew. About 10% of the arrests were for looting. He also said more than 60 LAPD vehicles had been damaged during protests, including some that were burned.
As of Tuesday evening, there were no major reports of violence or looting of the type that occurred over earlier days.
Protests — all of them peaceful — took place in downtown Los
Angeles, near City Hall, in Hollywood and outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence in Hancock Park.
Hours into Tuesday’s peaceful protests, the LAPD tweeted, “This afternoon we saw the best of Los Angeles. Thousands of demonstrators marched in solidarity. We will continue to facilitate everyone’s First Amendment right to assemble peacefully… we will continue to listen, learn, and grow.”
Tuesday’s gatherings began hours after a countywide curfew was lifted at 6 a.m., and hours after hundreds of arrests were made in Hollywood, Westwood and the San Fernando Valley, mostly of people ignoring the county and city curfews as they staged protests.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday sent a letter to the
city and county of Los Angeles, claiming the curfew orders exceed their authority and represent a violation of First Amendment rights to free speech.
“… A community’s right to protest day or night may not be infringed merely because some people have acted unlawfully in certain areas of the county,’’ according to the ACLU letter.
Garcetti on Tuesday night defended the curfews.
“I need to protect all Angelenos,” he said. “I need to protect protesters. I need to protect our police officers. And we saw dangerous, dangerous situations that almost resulted in death, and I won’t let that happen.”