Los Angeles— Recognizing the profound value of peaceful protest, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his Office has developed a non-punitive approach, outside of the Court system, to handle all violations arising from the recent protests that do not involve violence, looting or vandalism (principally curfew violations and failure to disperse/failure to follow a lawful order cases) following the heinous murder of George Floyd. Feuer and his office conceived the approach immediately following the arrests of protesters for curfew violations and failure to disperse/failure to follow a lawful order.
"Peaceful protest is profoundly important, and these protests have rekindled a long-overdue effort to change hearts, minds and institutions. We can't let this moment pass as we have too many times before," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "As we move forward, our restorative approach to these cases will bring protesters, law enforcement and other voices from our community together to foster the mutual empathy, understanding and respect that are essential to building a better version of our City. We want to go beyond the all-too-common dynamic of people talking at each other. We want to create an environment where participants really listen to each other. Ideally we'll develop a model on which jurisdictions across the nation can build at this crucial moment."
The City Attorney’s Office announced the following approach:
Recognizing the profound value of peaceful protest, City Attorney Mike Feuer's Office historically has offered non-punitive, non-judicial resolutions to individuals whose only violation at a protest is a failure to disperse/failure to follow a lawful order, unless specific circumstances dictate otherwise. This approach both promotes First Amendment values and personal accountability.
Our Office will develop a version of this approach for all violations that do not involve violence, looting or vandalism arising from the recent protests, tailored to the issues at stake today. This approach will incorporate principles of restorative justice reflected in our Office's Community Justice Initiative, and allow for a non-punitive (financial or otherwise) resolution of these matters, outside of the courts.
Specifically, our Office will be creating opportunities for violators to participate in an exchange of ideas and perspectives--as well as a discussion of tangible steps that can be taken by individuals, communities, law enforcement and our office--to address issues relevant to these protests. We want to provide the opportunity for all to express candid views, listen and learn--fundamental tenets of the First Amendment.
Toward this end, we will be developing a menu of programs employing different formats, focusing the curricula on the relationship between the community and law enforcement, including bringing members of each together to directly share their experiences and views. We also hope to facilitate listening and learning that goes even further, as the underlying issues of racial inequality, bias and abuse widely impact many aspects of our society.
In the next couple months, we will work with members of the community, our criminal justice and law enforcement partners, and experts in facilitation to develop alternative models that reflect this basic paradigm. We expect to begin implementing this approach later this summer.
Our hope is that this restorative justice approach will be an ingredient in deepening the mutual empathy, understanding and respect that our City needs--perhaps serving as a model for other jurisdictions as well.
"Resolving these violations through alternative methods is a productive and appropriate way to address these offenses, and will have lasting positive effects on our community," said Michel Moore, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. "I fully support this approach to criminal justice reform, and will work closely with the City Attorney’s Office to ensure it is successful."