San Jose dropped the idea of prosecuting people who violated a curfew during the George Floyd protests.
The decision was announced the same day San José Spotlight reported one of those violators was Mayor Sam Liccardo.
The four-day, 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew enacted by City Manager Dave Sykes May 31 sought to quell uprisings over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
“The city will not be prosecuting the municipal code curfew violations in the interest of justice,” a spokesperson for Nora Frimann, acting city attorney, said in a statement Sept. 3. “Other charges for penal code violations will be considered by the District Attorney’s Office.”
City officials will notify curfew violators if they do not need to appear in court for citations.
Activist Raj Jayadev, cofounder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, said the curfew should not have been enacted in the first place.
“It’s an embarrassment for San Jose, specifically for the mayor and city leadership that they would go to the extreme exception of essentially stripping people of their legal right to protest,” Jayadev said. “The great irony to me is that they used a law to curtail people’s rights who were protesting against governmental oppression.”
“And then on top of this, to hear the news that the mayor was essentially violating the curfew by riding his bike — I think it’s just sort of the peak political arrogance by the city,” Jayadev said.
J.T. Stukes, an activist who discovered the mayor violated the curfew on a bike ride, is suing the San Jose Police Department for civil rights violations and use of excessive force that he experienced while protesting past the curfew. He said he is trying to puzzle out why the city made the decision so suddenly.
“I’m thrilled that they’re not going to prosecute anyone for a curfew violation,” Stukes said.
Sarah Marinho, a civil rights attorney representing Stukes and others in the lawsuit, said while the mayor may not have recalled whether he broke curfew, many residents were forced to keep a close eye on the time to avoid police encounters and possible injury.
“The mayor out there with his blasé leisure ride that he doesn’t even really remember if he did or not is a perfect example of how he doesn’t need to concern himself with where he was during the curfew, and whether he broke it,” Marinho said.
The decision to not penalize curfew violators came months after other California cities, such as Sacramento and Los Angeles, dropped curfew related charges.
“The city could have made that decision sooner — immediately,” Marinho said. “But they, for some reason, waited and only announced their decision after that issue with the mayor came out. It seems pretty clear the decision was made very recently and likely because of the mayor’s own breaking of his curfew.”
Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.