City prosecutor wants to talk with protesters instead of charging them with curfew violations

Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert on Tuesday said he intends to drop any citations for curfew violations that were handed out to peaceful protesters. Instead, he’ll pursue a type of diversion program.

His decision comes after thousands marched against police brutality in Downtown Long Beach on May 31 before looters spread through the city. Officials enacted a curfew that night and the following 3 nights as fear of civil unrest took hold. It wasn’t until the ACLU sued Los Angeles County on June 3 that city and county officials stopped enacting the curfews.

While Haubert’s office has not yet received the citations from the police department to review, he said, “It is clear than many of those cited for curfew violations were attempting to exercise their free speech rights, and they were doing so in a nonviolent way.”

Haubert’s office will review each case once they get the information from the police department. According to LBPD, 56 people were cited between 3:30 p.m. May 31 to 10 a.m. June 1. It’s unclear what the citations were for or how many were for breaking curfew. The department has declined to provide those details to the Post.

Those cited for curfew violations would not be completely off the hook as Haubert said he intends to invite them to “participate in a dialogue” on race and relations between police and the public.

“This could become a teachable moment, not just for protesters and those in law enforcement, but for all of us,” Haubert said, noting that he consulted with community members and educators about the idea. “As long as people are protesting peacefully I do not believe the interest of justice would be served by criminal prosecution, and creating a platform for dialogue seems like the best way to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.”

The program would not apply for those accused of violating curfew for reasons other than peacefully protesting.

LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey also announced Tuesday that she would not file charges against any protester for a curfew violation or failure to disperse.

“I believe whole-heartedly in free speech and support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully against historic racial injustice in our criminal justice system and throughout our nation,” Lacey said. “I want to encourage the exchange of ideas and work to establish dialogue between law enforcement and protesters so that we may implement enduring systemic change.”

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.