Beverly Hills faces criticism after arrests of 28 peaceful protesters

Beverly Hills faces criticism after officers arrested 28 people during a peaceful protest against police violence overnight, two weeks after imposing an unusual ordinance banning protests in residential areas that “disrupted the quiet.”

The latest protest, which started around 7:30 p.m. Friday and drew about 75 people, was the third demonstration in Beverly Hills organized by the Black Future Project, but the first to result in arrests, organizer Austin Tharpe of 29 years.

“We are protesting the lives of blacks,” he said. “Specifically in Beverly Hills, because of the privilege and the entire makeup of the community, we felt that our voices needed to be heard there.”

He said that after protesters marched for several hours, police deployed a long-range acoustic device, also known as a sonic cannon, and declared the demonstration an illegal assembly shortly before midnight.

“We put the signs on the ground,” he said. “We turned around and walked away from the police with our knees on the ground and our hands behind our heads.”

He said officers continued to shout orders to disperse, while protesters continued to kneel.

A total of 28 people were detained, most on suspicion of illegal gathering, although one person faced an arson attempt after allegedly attempting to burn down a large American flag that was attached to a building, the sergeant said. Thomas West of the Beverly Hills Police Department. That person was associated with the protest but not with the Black Future Project, Tharpe said.

“They were given multiple warnings to leave, and as the arrests were made, we continually asked people to leave, so it was the people who absolutely refused to leave who were arrested,” West said.

Initially, the Police Department planned to detain protesters under what is called a misdemeanor of non-release, which would have required them to post a $ 5,000 bond to get out, West said.

Later in the day, citing a command staff directive, the department reversed course and said protesters would be summoned and released on their own accord, provided they had no pending arrest warrants. The protesters were detained on Saturday afternoon, raising concerns from activists who said they should have been summoned and released more quickly.

That came after the National Lawyers Guild issued a statement denouncing the $ 5,000 bond as “unacceptable” and calling for the protesters to be released immediately.

“It is outrageous that during a statewide health crisis, and when, as we have heard from our local, state and federal officials, the number of COVID-19 cases in California continues to rise, that the Beverly Hills Police Department Stop these peaceful protesters, “the organization said in a statement.” Keeping these men and women in custody will unnecessarily expose them to significant health risk and endanger their lives. “

The protesters had not yet been released at 5 p.m. Saturday. West said they were in the process of being physically booked, “and that the booking process takes time,” particularly due to the volume of arrests.

City officials did not return calls for comment.

“He is very vindictive,” said Tharpe. “We have had this situation before, and generally we are detained, they give us an appointment and we go in and out in two or three hours. It is extremely aggressive for them to be detained for almost 14 hours and not yet processed, nothing is known about them yet. “

West could not say whether the protesters were arrested as a result of an order restricting nightly assemblies in residential neighborhoods to allow residents to sleep. The arrests occurred in a residential section of the city north of the dazzling business district.

The order, which took effect on June 13, states that no more than 10 people are allowed to gather for an assembly in a residential area between 9 pm and 8 am. An assembly is defined as a meeting in a public place consisting of 10 or more people who have a common goal.

The order restricting the nightly assemblies cites the events of May 30, as well as an “Occupy” protest that took place on Friday from 10 pm to 1 am

The protest “included megaphones and amplified music and disrupted the quiet of the residential neighborhood during the hours when many people normally slept,” says the order.

The city has deemed it necessary to limit the use of residential neighborhoods at night to allow residents to sleep, according to the order.

Those who violate the order may face arrest and be charged with a misdemeanor.