Following her recent decision not to file charges against 43 people accused of violating the City of Sacramento’s curfew on its first night, Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood has decided not to prosecuted 22 people who were cited for disobeying the order on subsequent evenings.
The City of Sacramento’s curfew order was in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. June 1 – 5. It was lifted June 6.
After reviewing each curfew-violation case individually, Alcala Wood said: “As prosecutors, we have sworn an oath to act with integrity, utilizing balanced judgment to ensure public safety within our communities while respecting the constitutional and legal rights of all persons to protest and petition their government for redress.
“We have an obligation not only to pursue appropriate criminal charges when necessary, but also to employ discretion to not authorize criminal charges as certain existing facts and circumstances demand.
“The curfew was appropriately enacted by the City Council, and direction was given to the police department to enforce it. The existence of the curfew, along with all other measures taken by residents, businesses, community leaders and protest organizers, all served the collective community desire to de-escalate the aggressive violence that was unfolding along with the lawful civil unrest during those first few days. Accordingly, in the interests of justice, it is appropriate to not pursue additional actions against these individuals.”
The City Attorney’s Office received 68 cases of people accused of violating the City of Sacramento’s curfew order. The City Attorney’s Office continues to evaluate three cases, in which individuals, in addition to being cited for violating the curfew order, may have been involved in looting, according to information presented in police reports.
The City Attorney’s Office will make final determinations on those cases as soon as possible, Alcala Wood said.
The City Council enacted Sacramento’s first citywide curfew after two nights of theft, vandalism and violence occurred on May 30 and 31. The acts of destruction and mayhem followed largely peaceful protests, which took place earlier on those days.
People who violated the curfew were issued a citation, which carries a penalty of up to a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.
Here is Alcala Wood’s previous statement regarding her decision not to file charges against 43 people who violated curfew on June 1:
“During the past few weeks, citizens have rightfully taken to the streets and other public places to advocate for social justice and police reform. For the most part, the protests have been peaceful and nonviolent as the participants seek to hold all levels of government responsive and accountable. However, over the course of two nights – May 29 and May 30 — the City experienced an unforeseen escalation of violent and destructive behavior that fell well outside every American’s First Amendment right to protest. As a result, the City Council called an emergency session in the middle of these events, on Sunday, May 31, to discuss any action needed to address unfolding events and the security of the city.
“The decision was made on that Sunday to intensify public communication and outreach efforts and encourage local groups such as Black Lives Matter Sacramento to continue their lawful, peaceful and necessary protests and discouraging other groups that were intent on using these peaceful protests as a cover to wantonly engage in criminal conduct against persons and property. Unfortunately, despite these efforts to de-escalate, after nightfall on Sunday, May 31, the city experienced a third night of increasing criminal conduct, this one more violent and confrontational than the previous two nights. As a result, the City Council met again in emergency session on Monday, June 1, and enacted the curfew. As the first curfew the City has ever issued, it was a decision that was made after significant deliberation, an extraordinary measure to protect life and property.
“It’s important to note that the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes state law violations, which include crimes against persons and property. The City Attorney’s Office is authorized to prosecute only the City’s curfew violations. In each case where a curfew violation was the only charge, the person stopped was given a notice to appear in court at a future date and allowed to be on their way. It is not true that anyone has been charged, neither is it true that bail was required or that anyone was transported to jail solely for a curfew violation.
“I recently decided not to file the 43 violations that occurred on the first night that the curfew was imposed. My reasoning is that there was a short period of time between the Council’s decision to impose a curfew — at approximately 5 p.m. — and the 8 p.m. curfew that was effective on that first night of June 1. While the City made every effort to promptly publish the curfew times, it is absolutely plausible that many persons were not aware of the newly adopted curfew hours, and so it is proper not to file any cases for this date.
“We continue to evaluate the curfew violations that occurred on subsequent nights.”