It was around 10pm on Sunday when San Jose police walked up to 25th District Assembly Candidate Alex Lee on Fourth and Santa Clara streets, zip-tied his hands and shoved him into the back of a paddywagon.
Lee, one of very few political candidates to join protesters, had spent the weekend marching against George Floyd’s death specifically and police brutality writ large.
But on the third night, San Jose imposed a hastily-drafted 8:30pm curfew to give cops a tool to clear the streets and round up stragglers. Lee said police never announced the curfew and only a few people even received an emergency order about it on their phone.
Lee said he was chatting with a TV reporter when “a police SUV rolled up onto the curb, lights on.” “They did not say there’s a curfew,” Lee recounted. “One police officer approached me and said, ‘Hey can I talk to you?”
Moments later, his hands were restrained behind his back. A Latino man who had briefly emerged from his apartment to check out what was going on was also detained, Lee said.
“He wasn’t resisting or anything, but they just arrested him,” he added.
Officers then brought the protestors to the SAP Center, where they cited the group for the equivalent of a misdemeanor. After writing scores of tickets, cops transported the low-level offenders to either the Great Mall in Milpitas or the Eastridge Mall in San Jose. There were no buses running and the curfew-scofflaws had to call friends for rides home.
“It didn’t feel so much as getting people off the streets and going home,” Lee observed. “It was more as if it was this intimidation tactic.”
After his first brush with the law, the Assembly hopeful said he’s even more motivated to bring “deep reform of our policing” to Sacramento.
Lee, a Democrat, is running against Republican Bob Brunton in the fall election.