A mostly peaceful protest for racial justice in Santa Ana ended with a standoff between demonstrators and police after a citywide curfew went into effect Monday night.
The curfew, announced just before 6 p.m., was in place from 10 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. It was issued ahead of the protest calling for justice in Compton deputies’ fatal shooting of Andres Guardado, with officials citing “possible civil unrest” in a news release.
The curfew prohibits outdoor activity except for those seeking emergency care, fleeing danger and traveling to and from employment and religious services. The order does not apply to law enforcement, fire and medical personnel, or members of the media, police said.
About 200 demonstrators gathered at 8 p.m. on the corner of Bristol Street and McFadden Avenue and peacefully marched to the Santa Ana police station on Civic Center Drive to demand charges in Guardado’s killing last Thursday, as well as other deadly police shootings.
“It’s unjust, what’s going on in L.A. especially,” a man named Andres who attended the rally told KTLA. “A young man, 18 years old, got gunned down.”
Officials say Guardado was carrying a loaded gun, but they don’t believe he fired it before deputies shot six rounds at him.
Family members say the teen was working as a security guard, but investigators say he didn’t have a state license and wasn’t wearing a uniform. Andrew Haney, a manager at the auto shop Guardado was shot near, told the Associated Press that Guardado would sometimes come directly from his job elsewhere as a security guard to learn from mechanics and to keep guard to stop graffiti.
The Los Angeles County sheriff on Monday asked state officials to oversee the investigation into Guardado’s death.
A protest over Guardado’s death Sunday in Compton ended in a harsh crackdown, with deputies using flash-bang grenades, pepper balls and smoke grenades on protesters. The demonstration had otherwise appeared to remain peaceful.
About 15 minutes before Santa Ana’s 10 p.m. curfew went into effect, a flash of light and a loud noise came from the crowded street.
A KTLA crew on scene, including a security officer who served in law enforcement, said they saw what they believed to be a flash-bang fired by police toward the crowd, prompting protesters to disperse.
On Tuesday morning, a police spokesman said the disturbance was actually caused by an M-80 firecracker that came from protesters. One officer was hit in the leg by the M-80 and treated at the scene, Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. The officer was OK following the incident.
A few dozen demonstrators remained past 10 p.m., and a standoff ensued between them and officers. The protesters put up trash bins to act as buffer between themselves and police. It was unclear whether arrests would be made.
Santa Ana’s curfew comes weeks after most Southern California cities abandoned their orders, despite ongoing unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“It’s just a trick to silence us. That’s what they’ve been doing across the country,” said a woman named Celeste who attended Monday’s event. “They set these curfews so that we can’t be out here protesting and exercising our constitutional right.”
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city and county of Los Angeles and the city of San Bernardino over their curfews, saying they suppressed First Amendment guarantees to political protest and freedom of movement. L.A. and San Bernardino dropped their orders the next day.
Celeste said the threat to her right to speak out was part of why she protested.
“That’s what they’re doing, that’s what’s happening — and that’s why we’re here,” she said.