In an emergency meeting at City Hall Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Clarita City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a local emergency amid civil unrest in the Southern California region and set a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the city Thursday night.
The curfew time in Santa Clarita will be 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday night-Friday morning regardless of any curfew time set by L.A. County officials for the same period, Mayor Cameron Smyth said in a press conference outside City Hall after the meeting adjourned.
“After that time, no one will be allowed to be on our city streets and sidewalks, and business need to be closed,” he said.
“There are exceptions, of course — for those who need to be traveling to and from work or to provide essential emergency services, and if you are traveling back into Santa Clarita from other parts of the region you are certainly free to do so as you are traveling back home,” Smyth said.
“This curfew will allow our Sheriff’s Department to be more able to identify those who are looking to not peacefully protest but to cause harm and damage to our community,” he said.
“We have also asked the National Guard to come and support our personnel to help deter any looters or those who wish to riot,” Smyth said. “We are taking a strong stand tonight and have the resources in place to protect our community.”
After a request from the city and county of Los Angeles, California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in L.A. County on Sunday. The state approved the city and county’s request to deploy members of the state National Guard to assist Los Angeles and neighboring communities in the county including Santa Clarita.
“In California and across the country, there are indications that violent actors may be attempting to use these protests for their own agendas. We are closely monitoring organizing by violent extremist organizations,” Newsom said in a statement Sunday.
The Council’s move was prompted by reports of possible violent protest demonstration set for noon Thursday near the intersection of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway in Valencia.
The Council’s vote Wednesday followed a closed session in which they consulted with city legal counsel as well as with City Manager Ken Striplin and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Captain Justin Diez about the apparent “threat to public services or facilities,” according to the emergency meeting’s agenda.
The city’s emergency declaration and curfew resolution were per Government Code Sections 8630 and 8634.
Prior to the vote, Councilmembers opened a public session to hear comments from a handful of callers.
In the post-meeting news conference, Smyth said the city, county, Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol have been working together to prepare for Thursday’s planned protest.
Smyth said they have a plan to keep the peace, allowing for a lawful public protest protected by the First Amendment while not allowing demonstrators to break the law.
In his brief remarks at the news conference, Diez promised that the LASD was deploying all the resources necessary to keep residents and businesses safe. Any looters and rioters looking to cause damage and steal property will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“The evidence is clear, George Floyd died at the hands of four police officers – all of whom should be prosecuted,” Smyth said in a statement Monday. “This brutality by sworn peace officers should alarm all of us, and we must work together to ensure Mr. Floyd’s death leads to the reforms necessary to the benefit of all communities.”
“I was personally encouraged today to see that the Attorney General has escalated the charges against the offending officer as well as charging and issuing arrest warrants for the other three,” he said Wednesday at the beginning of the news conference.
“We have heard from our residents about and we have heard from our protestors that have been demanding justice and we are proud of the passion, determination and commitment to insist upon equality and civil rights for all of our residents,” Smyth said.
“I want to assure the community we hear your voices, we see your emails, and your correspondence and the Council will take steps in coordination with our law enforcement, with our community partners to work together to create a guideline and plan for Santa Clarita specifically, much as we have done around addressing the issue of homelessness in our community,” he said.
“We are unique here in Santa Clarita, and we will work together to ensure that those in our community that feel the weight of that injustice have a voice and have a seat at the table to develop a clear and consistent message here in Santa Clarita,” Smyth said.
“And that started last Saturday when residents came together to peacefully assemble and protest as a community,” he said. “And while we have seen instances throughout the nation, of violence and damage to property, to individuals — we did not see that here in Santa Clarita. We are proud to report that our protest on Saturday resulted in zero arrests, zero property damage, zero threat to our businesses or other residents.”
“And I want to make it clear — to those who wish to come to Santa Clarita, to those who live in our community, that wish to peaceably assemble and make their voices heard, are exercising their First Amendment rights — you are more than welcome to do that here in our community,” Smyth said.
“However, those who wish to take advantage of these peaceful protests and use that as an opportunity to either loot or riot — that will not be tolerated,” he said.
See the entire press conference above.