Area police departments, including the one in South Pasadena, are ready to be called on in face of violence as skirmishes, unrest and fiery clashes continue throughout the region and country.
Tensions rose over the weekend and again Monday night as protests erupted throughout major cities as curfew violations were put into effect in the wake of the death of George Floyd — a unarmed man from Minneapolis who was asphyxiated after an officer pinned his knee into the his neck for more than eight minutes on Memorial Day. Amid his pleas for help, a handcuffed Floyd succumbed as Officer Derek Chauvin pushed the man’s face into the pavement. Chauvin was charged with third degree murder last Friday.
Monitoring the situation closely from New York to Los Angeles and dozens of major cities in between is South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz. The protests come on top coronavirus concerns locally and throughout the world.
He insists the city his department protects is safe, his staff healthy and prepared to take action if called on as the unrest grips America. “During these challenging times and pandemic, the police department and most agencies in the San Gabriel Valley are all on tactical deployment,” said Ortiz, noting that two peaceful demonstrations were held in South Pasadena last weekend.
“Plans are in place in the event of protest activity,” he explained. “The curfew order is still in effect (according to the updated county order, dated 6/1/20). We are also prepared to provide resources via mutual aid request(s).”
Following an autopsy, a medical examiner called Floyd’s death a homicide, concluding he passed away from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”
After a weekend of chaos in downtown and west Los Angeles, county officials declared a curfew that went into effect at 6 p.m. on Monday for a second straight night.
Although no South Pasadena Police Department officers have been deployed to other cities to assist during the unrest, “we continue to monitor events related to protests and effects on the city,” said Ortiz.
Added South Pasadena City Council member Diana Mahmud: “It is truly frustrating that the looting and wanton, indiscriminate destruction of businesses large and small is distracting from the important message the peaceful protests are organized to send,” she said. “With business closures due to COVID, this will be a death knell for some. Sadly, for those businesses that can recover it may take years, if past history is any guide. We need to address and remedy the persistent racial and economic inequality that the peaceful protests seek to highlight.”
Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement Monday on the demonstrations across California: “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 ahead of tonight. To those who seek to exploit Californians’ pain to sow chaos and destruction, you are not welcome. Our state and nation must build from this moment united and more resolved than ever to address racism and its root causes.”