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Bay Area Curfews Lifted, Police Hope Demonstrations Stay Peaceful on Day 7 of Protests



Protest after George Floyd's Death | Bay Area Curfews Lifted, Police Hope Demonstrations Stay Peaceful on Day 7 of Protests | Featured

Jun. 4–As curfews lifted Thursday around the Bay Area after a violent weekend of protests and police clashes, police departments girded for trouble they hope won't come back.

“I'm not going to tell you I'm not concerned,” San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said during an extraordinary news conference Thursday when he defended his department's use of tear gas, flashbang grenades and rubber bullets last weekend when protests escalated to violence and looting. Having a curfew, he said, “was extremely helpful for our police officers and for the health of the city.”

Early Thursday evening, protests remained peaceful.

On the same day as the memorial service for George Floyd, who was killed last week by a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck, a scattering of demonstrations were underway Thursday afternoon around the Bay Area, including San Jose, Oakland, Mountain View and Fremont.

In Fremont, a city still under curfew orders, hundreds marched South on Fremont Boulevard in the hot afternoon sun, chanting, “No Justice, No peace” and “f—-k your curfew.” Many were carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop killing us,” and End racism, not lives.”

“I feel something different in the air, that we're going to actually make some strides,” said Giselle McNeill, 44, of Fairfield, who came to Washington High School in Fremont Thursday afternoon with her 16-year-old daughter Kierra to protest Floyd's death.

At Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, many gathered on picnic blankets to listen to speakers denouncing police brutality.

San Jose joined Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Oakland, Berkeley, Palo Alto and a slew of other Bay Area jurisdictions in lifting their curfews Thursday, following a night of massive but overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations throughout the region.

A large Oakland protest Wednesday night was organized to expressly violate the city's curfew, but because the gathering was peaceful, police allowed it to continue well into the night. Similarly, a massive protest in San Francisco, where the curfew was lifted Thursday morning, was mostly peaceful.

San Jose's protest at City Hall on Wednesday, where most of the several hundred protesters left at the 8:30 p.m. curfew, was so orderly that officers were “practically falling asleep at the command post,” Police Cpt. Jason Dwyer said during the news conference Thursday. “Watching the crowd move about freely, we're letting them take the streets because we know they're not hurting anyone.”

That was a sharp contrast to last weekend, when some protesters at City Hall picked up wooden boards from a construction site across the street and wielded them in a melee, and went on to shatter windows and throw rocks and other projectiles at police. One officer was punched in the face and briefly fell unconscious.

On Wednesday — six days after Friday's first violent night in San Jose — there was no police presence at San Jose City Hall until 9:15 p.m. — 45 minutes after curfew — and that came from the sky, with a helicopter circling and a loudspeaker instructing protesters to go home.

The curfews were a response to looting and vandalism at businesses throughout the Bay Area over the past week — destruction that coincided with mass demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd, as well as police killings of other black men and women. But when thousands of protesters in San Francisco and Oakland defied their curfews for hours Wednesday night, chanting, making speeches and even dancing in the street, police mostly let them be, and the night ended without violence. Now, officials in many jurisdictions feel the curfews are no longer needed.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, during the same news conference Thursday, acknowledged that curfews had been necessary to “get a handle on what was a brutally difficult situation over the weekend” and that the city will evaluate day to day whether curfews need to be reimposed.

However, the mayor said, he and the City Council would impose them again “very reluctantly because I believe this is a very substantial imposition on the civil liberties of our residents. Nobody in this department, nobody in the city intends to live under a curfew for any extended period of time. Nobody believes that's a tolerable way to live. This is not a state of martial law. That's not what we're going to become.”


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