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1st Amendment Rights Top Priority For Laguna Beach Police

Patch logo Patch 4/20/2021 Ashley Ludwig
a man in a business suit sitting at a table: Derek Chauvin found guilty : In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, arrive for the verdict in Chauvin's trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20. © AP Photo Derek Chauvin found guilty : In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, arrive for the verdict in Chauvin's trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA —Laguna Beach officials were prepared to protect the First Amendment rights of residents following the reading of the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. The former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck last year was found guilty on all counts, Tuesday.

The jurors deliberated on one of the most controversial cases in modern history. Chauvin was convicted Tuesday with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces a maximum of 75 years in prison under Minnesota law.

Law enforcement agencies all over California were preparing for potential unrest as the nation anxiously awaited the verdict of the trial. Last summer, a groundswell of activism swept the nation and the Golden State after Floyd’s death on May 31.

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One year ago, police agencies across Orange County were on high alert during summer protests following Floyd's death.

Orange County's District Attorney Todd Spitzer said after mass protests broke out in Huntington Beach and other cities. Still, at those protests, the majority were peaceful and respectful at that time, Spitzer said. "As a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, I watched the streets of Los Angeles burn during the 1992 riots."

While First Amendment rights will be protected, looting and rioting will not, he said at the time.

Across Orange County, law enforcement officers prepared for residents to express their first amendment rights, regardless of the verdict.

Orange County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun discussed possible demonstrations that may take place.

Over 150 deputies who specialize in "crowd management" are ready to deploy anywhere in the county to help maintain order should it be needed, she said.

"We are working with Orange County law enforcement agencies to ensure personnel is available to protect the First Amendment rights of those wishing to have their voice heard peacefully and to protect life and property," Braun said.

Anaheim Police spokesman, Sgt. Shane Carringer, says the department will respond to demonstrations as they happen, but that no other changes are being made. The department is monitoring social media and will make staffing changes as needed, he says.

In Laguna Beach, officials say they are always prepared for protests in their city and to support the county.

"Our officers are Mobile Field Force trained and are also trained in de-escalation," Laguna Beach Police Lt. James Cota says. "We are anticipating the verdict along with everyone else."

City News Service contributed to this report.

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