Curfews and Notifications
Why did the City implement curfews?
The City supports and facilitates peaceful protests, and has a responsibility to protect life, safety and property within our community. On May 29, an event started in downtown as a peaceful protest in response to the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, the crowd grew quickly and the situation became dangerous and violent, resulting in fires and significant damage to businesses and public property.
After the acts of violence and destruction that occurred in downtown Eugene on the evening of Friday, May 29, the City Manager declared a state of emergency (EC 2.1055).
Based on Friday night’s events and in order to protect public safety and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations, the goal was to prevent large crowds from gathering after peaceful protests completed.
There are essentially two options within city code to reduce crowd size: a curfew or a limitation on crowd sizes. The City Manager felt the second option would put police officers in the problematic position of having to decide which crowds to limit. This did not seem equitable, while a curfew applies to everyone.
After consulting with all members of the City Council, the City Manager decided to implement the curfew in as limited a space as possible and extend it only as needed to preserve the safety of the public and prevent a reoccurrence of destruction and other unlawful acts that occurred May 29.
Why didn’t the City implement a curfew on Friday, May 29?
Curfews are very rare in Eugene and can only be enacted by the City Manager when a state of emergency has been declared (EC 2.1055(4)(f)).
On Saturday, May 30, the City Manager, in consultation with the Eugene City Council, declared a state of emergency in response to the unexpected acts of violence and destruction that occurred in downtown Eugene on the evening of Friday, May 29. Once the declaration was in place, the decision to implement a curfew was made each day based on the information and circumstances at the time.
Why didn’t the City provide more notice about the curfew?
We are working to do this better in the future. Several factors made it challenging to release information in a timely way. Curfews are rare and the decision to implement them is based on the immediate circumstances, and they require contacting all City Councilors. As soon as the decision was made based on events on the ground and the Council was contacted, the notice was sent to the media and then posted to the City’s website and social media accounts. Officers on the ground announced the information to people in the area.
We understand the concern and frustration around the curfew implementation and will continue to look for better ways and processes that could improve these types of notifications.
Why did the City use the push notification alert to cell phones? Why didn’t the City use this alert before?
In response to the call for more communication about recent curfews, emergency alerts were sent on two systems established to keep the community informed. One is an opt-in service found on the City’s website, the other is an emergency system that pushes alerts to mobile devices.
Many people complained that we had not properly informed the community of the implemented curfews. By alerting everyone in the City, including those on the streets, we hoped to gain better compliance of the curfew through education, rather than enforcement.
Our goal was not to interrupt sleep or inconvenience people, but to keep people safe and informed during dynamic and evolving situations.
We will continue to work to balance the need to broadly communicate about events like the curfew and ensuring the use of the appropriate communication tool. Learn more about the different types of emergency alerts the City utilizes and how you can sign up and alter your subscriptions.
Why were exemptions not respected?
(reporter hit with tear gas, police actions outside the curfew zone, arrests and interactions with people who were not protestors)
The City values our local journalists and the essential role they play in communicating what is happening in our community and within local government. Credentialed media were specifically exempted from the curfew in order to facilitate their work and help ensure transparency. We also recognize that there is inherent risk for media reporting on a dynamic situation and we respect the risk media members take to keep the community informed.
The incident of a reporter being hit by a gas canister is very unfortunate and we share the community’s concern. The City Manager and Eugene Police Chief reached out to the news outlet and the reporter the next day. We also updated our process the next day to help increase the visibility and safety of media on the scene. We will continue to work on this process to help improve the situation for both media and first responders.
We have received reports of people who were exempt from the curfew being subject to police action. These reports have been passed to the Police Auditor, who is independent of EPD and will examine each allegation in detail to determine if any policy or performance violations took place.
As Police Chief Skinner noted in his discussion with the City Council on June 8:
“The application of what we did, in hindsight, could have been better and more measured and so part of my commitment to this council and this community is a reaffirmation and commitment to ongoing police reform as we look at identifying those mistakes that we potentially made.
When this community asks us to be better it’s our responsibility to find out and listen to them on what better means, including: what we need to do with policy, with training and education, and with the culture of the police department. We stand at the ready to have those conversations and be fully engaged to adjust the things we need to adjust.”