Speaking out on the protests and the violence in the streets across the country, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez told Pasadena Now he supports the First Amendment but said the violence and unrest are not part of it.
“Our right to freedom of speech, our first amendment right has to be heard. It has to be allowed and we support it,” Perez said.
“Many of the great changes in our history have come from First Amendment. We look at the Civil Rights era and what that produced with peaceful demonstrations and peaceful protests to make change. And we saw that with MLK’s success with a lot of organizations and pastors during that time.”
People were arrested in 22 states on Saturday as peaceful protests and incidents of violence and mayhem continued in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd.
Floyd died after a Minneapolis officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes during a May 25 incident, despite the dying man’s exclamations that he could not breathe.
So far there has been no unrest in Pasadena. City Manager Steve Mermell declared an 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday. That curfew was lifted at 5:30 a.m. after a local event remained peaceful. The curfew could be reinstated if things get out of hand today.
National Guard troops arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday morning to help restore order.
At least two dozen National Guard 129th Rescue Wing HC-130J vehicles passed in front of Los Angeles City Hall shortly before 5 a.m. and are expected to be part of the city’s response to any further unrest that develops as demonstrations continue against police brutality.
Roughly 1,000 guard personnel were deployed after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.
Perez said he welcomed candlelight vigils and peaceful protests for anyone that felt like they needed to be heard in Pasadena, but said violence is not the way to go.
“I’m hoping that we continue with that, and not that we’ve seen on TV the last couple of nights of burning up police cars and buildings and injured police officers, injured young people,” Perez said. “The tragic part of this, as I view this, the wide majority of people out there are young people and the young people aren’t being led by our community leaders to show them how to do this right.”
Several events were planned in Pasadena on Sunday, including one at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger announced Sunday that she has proclaimed a state of emergency as well, which will facilitate interagency response coordination and mutual aid, accelerate the procurement of vital supplies, and enable future state and federal reimbursement of costs incurred
by the county.
“This emergency comes as we are in the midst of battling another emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxes our resources, but not our resolve,” Barger said. “We will do everything in our power to keep our communities safe and protect lives and property. I continue to call on our
residents to maintain calm and seek solutions productively, not
Meanwhile, a curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. Sunday to 5:30 a.m. Monday in Los Angeles.
“The community needs to keep viewing what’s happening,” Perez said. “We need to keep having discussions in our community and reaching out to young people and letting them know that if you feel that you have to go out there and make your voice heard, do it peacefully.”
Perez said. “Do it with the intent to make change. Do not get involved in what we’ve been seeing on TV.”