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Curfews: A Threat To Democracy Or A Necessary Law Enforcement Tool?

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Protestors near Sunset and Vine on June 2. ( Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)
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Across Southern California, officials have imposed curfews in response to the protests over the killing of George Floyd.

But do curfews work?

Experts say it’s hard to tell, because we don’t have a lot of experience with them.

"It's actually an extremely aggressive strategy that you don't often see in democratic nations," said Jennifer Earl, a University of Arizona expert on how police handle protests.

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Cities and counties across Southern California are under curfews spurred by massive protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. But a number of experts who study policing say there's not a lot of evidence to show curfews actually reduce unrest.

One of the reasons for that uncertainty is that historically, we've had very few.

"It's actually an extremely aggressive strategy that you don't often see in democratic nations," said Jennifer Earl, an University of Arizona expert on how police handle protests.

Police have been arresting even peaceful protestors for curfew violations because "we can only protect people and their First Amendment rights for so long, because we're draining resources from other things," said Craig Lally, president of the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers.

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Everyone's Imposing Curfews. But Do They Work?