City rescinds curfew after peaceful protests, ACLU letter

Santa Clarita Station Sheriff's motor Deputies follow protestors as walk along Valencia Boulevard as they end the protest on Thursday, June 04, 2020Dan Watson/The Signal
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Just a few hours before a 14-hour curfew order was to commence, Santa Clarita city officials rescinded their directive after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union about concern over its legality and in light of Thursday’s protests concluding peacefully. 

“As we took in all of the information that included the letter, actions were taken by Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles and the nature of the protests, it made sense to rescind the curfew order,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth.

After the main protest Thursday that saw about 800 people, the mayor said he’d “never been so happy to be called ‘overreactive.’ I think because of the professionalism of our law enforcement officers and the intent of those who chose to protest went a long way to ensuring that there was safety for all and an opportunity for people that wanted to make their voices heard, they had the opportunity and floor to do that.”

City Hall, which was closed Thursday, will remain closed Friday. 

The decision to rescind Santa Clarita’s curfew comes after city officials received a letter from the ACLU that mentioned a lawsuit was filed on behalf of “an organization and several individuals challenging similar curfews.” 

“We respectfully request that you rescind or substantially restrict the curfew order issued on May 30,” the letter states.

The curfew, which would have taken effect at 6 p.m. Thursday and lasted until 6 a.m. Friday, was initially ordered Wednesday after the City Council voted to establish a local emergency that included the issuance of the curfew and “to take the necessary steps for the protection of life, health and safety in the city of Santa Clarita,” such as requesting the National Guard and additional law enforcement backup for the expected protest. 

Earlier on Thursday, Los Angeles County officials announced they would not issue a curfew for the day after the ACLU also filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the county because of its orders.

“The curfews’ extraordinary suppression of all political protest in the evening hours plainly violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and their blanket restrictions on movement outside working hours violate the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement,” the ACLU said in a prepared statement.

At the time of the city’s planned curfew Thursday, unincorporated areas such as Castaic and Stevenson Ranch, which are covered by county orders, would not have fallen under the city’s directive. 

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