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Santa Monica Won't Press Charges Against "Peaceful Protesters" Arrested During Last Week's Unrest
 

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By Lookout Staff

June 8, 2020 --Santa Monica will not be prosecuting demonstrators arrested for violating curfews or refusing to disperse during the protests May 31 over the police killing of George Floyd, City officials announced Monday.

While those who violated lawful orders will not face misdemeanor charges, those facing criminal charges for violations involving violence, looting or vandalism are being prosecuted, said Interim City Attorney George Cardona.

“Santa Monica has long recognized the value of peaceful protesting,” Cardona said.

“Consistent with Santa Monica’s goal of encouraging alternatives to criminal prosecution where appropriate, we will be pursuing criminal prosecutions for those involved in violence, vandalism, and looting, not those engaged only in curfew and similar violations.”

Earlier Monday, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said her office will not file charges against any protester for a curfew violation or failure to disperse.

Her office prosecutes misdemeanor cases in unincorporated areas of the county and in most cities, but not in Santa Monica.

Last Wednesday, Lacey announced charges against 61 people arrested for crimes committed during the protests that began on May 29.

Most of the charges filed were for looting. Other charges included assault and/or battery upon a peace officer, robbery, burglary, possession of a destructive device, identity theft and receiving stolen property, Lacey said.

Of those being prosecuted, 17 were charged at the Airport Branch Court, which covers some of the western portions of Los Angeles County, including Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, according to the DA's office.

The charges include felony looting, burglary and identity theft as well as misdemeanor looting and burglary.

Felony looting carries a possible maximum sentence of three years in county jail.

Meanwhile, a reward of as much as $10,000 was offered Monday for information leading to the arrest of looters who stole 29 firearms from a Big 5 Sporting Goods store in Santa Monica.

The store in the 3100 block of Wilshire Boulevard was broken into at around 8 p.m., said Ginger Colbrun of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which along with the store is offering half of the reward.

The suspects "used a crowbar and a sledgehammer to break the windows and utilized bolt cutters to cut the metal roll down gate," Colburn told City News Service.

"They opened the emergency exit door of the business to gain entry to the business," she said, adding that the suspects fled in a white BMW four-door sedan.

Last Tuesday, the Santa Monica Police Department partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to create the “SAFE LA Task Force.”

The task force will "conduct criminal investigations for significant crimes" committed during the civil unrest.

"Ultimately, those persons who committed significant crimes such as looting, burglary, robbery, vandalism, arson, and assault with great bodily injury will be held accountable for their actions during the past week," City officials said.

The SAFE LA Task Force is asking the media, and the public, for their assistance to identify suspects involved in the above listed criminal activities. Anyone with pertinent information should call (310)458-8401 or (213) 486-6840.

Tipsters can also submit an online tip, video, or picture to SAFELATIPS@lapd.online. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.


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