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S.F.’s curfew ends

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Unprecedented curfew comes to an abrupt halt

Hundreds of people marching along a dirt and sandy road next to a beach, protesting the killing of George Floyd.
Marchers walk peacefully along the Great Highway next to Ocean Beach.
Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Following widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, cities across the country, including San Francisco, were placed under a curfew.

However, by 5 a.m. Thursday, March 4, San Francisco’s curfew will be lifted.

“Starting tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. we will be lifting the curfew in San Francisco,” said Mayor London Breed over Twitter. “The protests we have seen in this city and across the country are for an important cause and our city will continue to facilitate any and all peaceful demonstrations.”

S.F. has seen mostly peaceful demonstrations, with the exception of a handful of incidents involving window smashing—particularly at pharmacies like Walgreens and luxury department stores in Union Square—and spray-painting of boarded-up storefronts. Breed announced the unprecedented citywide curfew Sunday, May 31. It was imposed from from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night.

This curfew was “in place to protect our San Francisco communities—and the safety of all who live and work in our city, and our first responders,” said fire chief Jeanine Nicholson, who noted that although a few fires erupted following Sunday’s protest, “the majority of people taking to the streets are doing it peacefully, powerfully, and with respect and compassion for the cause they’re fighting for.”

Not everyone at City Hall was on board with the order. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors talked for hours on June 2 about whether to approve or reject Breed’s mandate. No action was taken.

Following yesterday’s meeting, District Six Supervisor Matt Haney wrote on Twitter, “I cannot support an indefinite curfew in San Francisco. Such a curfew would include unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and peaceful protest. It will allow residents to be searched or arrested for simply being outside at 8:01 pm for any reason.”

It’s also unclear if emergency curfews are effective in reducing unrest. Some criminologists note a dearth of research on the matter, saying that a curfew could exacerbate the discord it’s meant to quell.