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San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a tweet Wednesday said she will lift The City’s curfew as of Thursday morning at 5 a.m.

The curfew was ordered by the mayor after a night of looting, vandalism and violence took place Saturday night following a peaceful protest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Before Floyd died, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is seen in multiple videos placing his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd said he could not breathe. Other officers were also seen kneeling on Floyd at one point but otherwise stood by and watched.

Ching Wong/SFBay A woman holds up a portrait of George Floyd at a rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ching Wong/SFBay.ca)

Nationwide outrage over Floyd’s death has sparked Bay Area wide and nationwide outrage over the police brutality of people of color.

Breed said in s series of tweets that the nationwide outrage and protests in The City and throughout the U.S. are understandable and that city officials will allow peaceful demonstrations to continue.

The mayor said:

“As I said at the rally at City Hall on Monday, I am Mayor of San Francisco, but I am a black woman first. I know what it is like to experience injustice, and as someone who grew up here I am well aware that we have our own legacy of racism to reckon with and rectify.”

The mayor said that the curfew was initially intended to protect the safety of residents and prevent vandalism and violence.

Tracey Lee/Flickr

San Francisco supervisors debated Tuesday on the merits of a curfew — feelings were mixed on the topic. They had planned to decide whether the curfew should continue but failed to reach consensus and punted the discussion to a special Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled for Thursday. 

The mayor’s decision now negates the need for a board vote.

Police Chief Bill Scott said during the BOS meeting that the curfew was a tool for the police to prevent destruction of the The City’s businesses.

Scott, who served as a police officer during the infamous 1992 Los Angeles riots, said he did not want to see a repeat of what happened in Los Angeles nearly three decades ago.

Scott said:

“That city then didn’t get to help until it’s too late. We, in my opinion, do not want to be that city.”

Questioning how the policy might infringe on constitutional rights,  Supervisor Hillary Ronen said:

“The thing we have to say yes or no to is an indefinite Fourth Amendment right to be free from search and seizures without probable cause as long as you’re outside, and that is an extraordinary taking away of our constitution rights.”

Supervisor Matt Haney also objected to any curfew without a determined expiration, saying: 

“I personally cannot support an indefinite curfew that would in my view have unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and peaceful protest.”

Curfews have been imposed in several Bay Area cities, including in Oakland, San Jose, Walnut Creek. Alameda and Contra Costa issued countywide curfew orders to streamline the policy. Cities across the nation are also enacting curfews in response to sustained incidents since Floyd’s death.

However, some supervisors, including Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, supported the curfew order.

Quinn Norton/Flickr Protesters gather outside Mission police station in San Francisco, Calif. to honor the memory of George Floyd and condemn police violence on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

She said:

“We have a president that is inciting people. We are people that are out of their minds with guns. I think it could be a very dangerous situation. I just want to say that I feel like this curfew is a tool and it’s a tool that helps us manage a crowd.”

Fewer wants city residents to protest safely, but added:

“When they are throwing Molotov cocktails and they’re setting things on fire, and there is a mob sort of mentality around violence — I don’t feel safe.”

Scott said he understood supervisors’ concerns over the indefinite timeline.

The police chief said: 

“I don’t think anybody wants this to just go on forever. I mean, this is impacting us all.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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