SACRAMENTO, Calif — Not everyone is entirely supportive of Sacramento's 8 p.m. nightly curfew. For some, they say it went into effect too late, having been declared days after people vandalized and looted several businesses in the downtown area.
Others have argued the curfew impinges on personal freedoms. Regardless, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg admits he doesn't like the curfew, but said it was necessary and a success.
"After two nights, I know I was very clear by Monday morning that adding the additional tools of a curfew and bringing in the National Guard was both a reluctant choice but a necessary choice," explained Steinberg.
The American Civil Liberties Union in Northern California in a letter on Thursday demanded that Steinberg and the city council end the curfew in the city, arguing that enforcing it violates both civil and constitutional rights.
"The public demonstrations and protests constitute an exercise of rights squarely protected by the First Amendment," wrote the ACLU. "Their lawful efforts to stop excessive force by law enforcement have been met, at times, with excessive force and now a curfew that improperly curtails their constitutional rights."
The ACLU said it is representing Black Lives Matter Sacramento, the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, as well as James Lee "Faygo" Clark, an unhoused activist who previously ran for mayor.
The organization argued that the curfew also impacts the city's homeless residents, some of whom were moved off of city hall grounds during the day as the National Guard set up a staging area.
"If anything, the imposition of a curfew — a signature measure of a police state — in direct response to protests regarding police accountability demonstrates the importance of these protests," the ACLU argued.
While protests throughout the city have remained peaceful, Steinberg said that having the curfew achieved the goal of keeping the city safe once those demonstrations were over and people began vandalizing businesses.
On Wednesday, the city's seventh consecutive day of protests over the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd, Sacramento police arrested zero people.
But that came after five days of arrests that peaked on Monday when the curfew started. In all, police have arrested 121 people, most of which were for breaking curfew or failure to disperse.
Only one-third of the arrests were for looting.
Still, despite the decrease in arrests, Steinberg insisted that the curfew remain in effect to protect businesses.
"We can hold onto multiple truths at the same time," Steinberg said. "And one truth is that we must maintain the safety in our community, which is why the curfew is necessary for at least a little while longer. But the other equally important truth is that real peace only comes when you make change and when you pursue justice."
In regards to the heavy presence of National Guard troops in the downtown area, Steinberg said if the curfew stays, so do the soldiers.
The curfew is scheduled to last through the weekend, ending early Monday morning. However, Steinberg hinted that the hours could change "on the weekend so that people might be able to go out and dine out."
Follow the conversation on Facebook with Mike Duffy.
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