On June 26, 2020, over two dozen protestors marching in Beverly Hills in support of Black lives and to protest the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were arrested by the Beverly Hills Police Department (“BHPD”) and held overnight, and for nearly a full additional day, in custody. When they were finally released, the City of Beverly Hills decided to criminally charge the protestors with violating an emergency curfew ordinance passed by the Beverly Hills City Council, to “preserve the peace and tranquility of residential neighborhoods.” The City Council made any violation of this ordinance a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to six months in jail.
On Friday, March 19th, volunteer attorneys with The National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles’ (“NLG-LA”) Mass Protest Defense Committee secured a dismissal of all criminal charges against these protestors on the bases that the Beverly Hills ordinance violates protestors First Amendment Rights to free speech and was designed with the intent to suppress protest activity. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windham granted the dismissal, ruling that the city’s emergency curfew order was unconstitutional because requiring silence in residential areas violated people’s right to free speech.
NLG-LA’s Mass Protest Defense Committee (“MDC”) was launched in June of 2020 in response to the wave of mass arrests of protestors participating in racial justice solidarity protests across Los Angeles County. The MDC organizes volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono criminal defense representation to arrested protestors, provides post-arrest legal support to protestors, and coordinates non-filing advocacy campaigns to prevent protestors from being criminalized for exercising their First Amendment Rights.
This dismissal would not have been possible without the exceptional leadership and advocacy of volunteer MDC attorneys Jerod Gunsberg, Bess Stiffelman, and Jeffery Douglas. The MDC is proud of the tremendous result achieved by these incredible volunteer advocates and stands in solidarity with all movements for social, racial, and economic justice.