Protesters Arrested In Beverly Hills For Unlawful Assembly, Held For More Than 16 Hours
A group of protesters were slowly being released from the Beverly Hills jail late Saturday afternoon, after spending most of the day in custody.
Beverly Hills police arrested 24 protesters around midnight on Saturday for gathering in a residential neighborhood. One protester reached by phone Saturday evening said only five people had been released as of 7:30 p.m.
He said he was arrested at 1 a.m. and not processed until 6:30 p.m., right before his release at 7.
"At 2 a.m. we arrived at the station. They started processing us, took our belongings and then just put us in a cell. They didn’t read us our rights. They didn’t offer us a phone call. And they didn’t tell us what we were being arrested for," he told LAist. "I kept asking for my phone call and they said ‘we’re really busy right now, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.’ I asked them for 17 hours."
He said the protesters were each put in a different cell, so they couldn't communicated with each other. He received a citation for "rioting," he said, adding, "I think they just wanted to lock us up and scare us, to keep us from ever coming here [to Beverly Hills] again."
A spokesperson from Beverly Hills PD said the protesters violated the city's Civil Emergency Order, which was issued on June 13. The order prohibits more than 10 people from gathering in a public residential area between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Beverly Hills Police Sergeant Thomas West told LAist that since the protesters were arrested on Saturday, police technically did not hold them overnight.
Twenty-four protesters were charged with unlawful assembly. One was charged with a misdemeanor and is being held on a $5,000 bail for attempted arson "after attempting to light a flag on fire, which hung from a commercial building at N. Santa Monica Blvd. and Canon Dr.," according to a statement from BHPD.
According to the city, no force was used on the protesters.
But Sarah Watlington, with the National Lawyer's Guild, said some of the protesters were held for over 16 hours before being processed. "Some we have spoken to said they haven’t been given potable water, soap, or sanitation," she told LAist.
Sergeant West, the watch commander at the Beverly Hills jail, said the processing took a long time because the jail is so small. He said once in the jail cells, protesters had access to soap, water and food, but they "might not be able to access to soap while waiting to be processed," and they would have had to specifically asked a guard for water or to use the bathroom.
Renee Tajima-Peña, a filmmaker and professor at UCLA, said her son was one of the protesters who was arrested. She says she couldn't reach him for 16 hours while he was being processed because the phone he was given to make a call didn't work.
"It's vindictive," she told LAist after he was finally released. "They were not processing them until the last minute."
The National Lawyers Guild issued a statement on the arrests, alleging that they violated the protester's First Amendment right to peacefully assemble:
"Last night, Beverly Hills police arrested dozens of Black Future Project protesters who were doing nothing more than peacefully kneeling on the ground, their hands behind their head. With one exception, these peaceful protesters were arrested for the low-level offense of 'failure to disperse' ... their continued detention is punitive and places their health and safety in danger."