At the end of his shift at the Home Depot warehouse in Joliet, Illinois, Elgin Hodges returned home at around 1:30 in the morning on Tuesday, sparks of blue and red light from a police car that lit his way.
Mayor Joliet has declared an emergency and impose a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am in response to the riots that erupted over George Floyd’s death.
Hodges checked that he obeyed speed limits, scanned the dark streets and parking lots for officers and nervously adjusted the documents he kept on the dashboard detailing his status as an important worker during the pandemic.
In recent days, many workers in cities with curfews have struggled to do morning shifts or come home late at night. They have to compete with the closure of public transportation, suspension of services by companies riding vehicles and police blocking the road and the way out.
Some employees see their wages cut when the business shortens hours in response. Others are forced not to pay wages because they cancel shifts in the face of travel obstacles or safety concerns, or leave early to be able to go home before curfew begins.
Hodges, who is black, is concerned that the curfew will make him a target of police harassment.
“Growing up, I was taught to keep turning my head. But now I have worked twice to ensure my safety, “he said.
Many cities and counties have relaxed or lifted their curfews, including Los Angeles, where the Sheriff’s Department said on Thursday that they would not impose restrictions, even though it said each city was free to defend itself.
At Joliet, where Hodges lived, curfew, was pushed back to 10 things, stay in place on thursday night. Every night since curfew was imposed on Monday, Hodges had taken the back road to avoid the main streets which were full of police, adding about 10 minutes to the usual 20-minute trip.
Blacks and Latinos fill jobs that operate outside standard hours 9 to 5 at a higher price from workers from other demographics. Experts expressed concern that imposing a curfew disproportionately affected black people and other marginalized communities.
Additional oversight of law enforcement during protests over pandemic restrictions serves as a “double whammy” for people of color, said Brenda Muñoz, vice chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
“Even for workers who are considered important and freed from law enforcement, people are afraid to go out during curfews for fear of police brutality, given the latest killings,” Muñoz said.
LA officials eased restrictions a day after the United Civil Liberties Union and the Black Lives Matter lawsuit filed against cities and counties as well as the city of San Bernardino to end the curfew, calling them “extraordinary repression” of political protests that clearly violated the rights of the First Amendment and restricted the necessary freedom of movement.
Kimberly Beltran Villalobos, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, was quoted for violating curfew after he went to fetch his mother from her workplace in East Los Angeles around 11 pm. Monday. He was also quoted May 30 when participating in protests over the death of George Floyd.
However, in cities across the country, curfews linger, as does their prospect of being able to re-apply elsewhere in response to a resurgent weekend protest.
In New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio extends from 8:00 to 17:00. Curfew until Sunday, Taylor Shubert was stopped by police around midnight Wednesday at the exit that he usually brought home from the Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan, where he works as an administrative support staff.
“I am an important worker, I have been told that I can go home,” Shubert told police. The clerk at Shubert’s window refused to let him pass, and told him to take a different route.
Through another speaker the officer said, “How about removing the bumper sticker from his car too,” according to a video from the encounter recorded by Shubert. Shubert have a sticker showing support for former Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar behind his car.
On the bridge, Shubert was stopped by the police again. He took a detour again. The third time he was stopped, he begged an officer to let him go home for a few minutes before he was allowed to pass.
It took Shubert two hours to drive to his home in Inwood, where he finally jumped into bed around 3:30 in the morning, he said. The six-mile trip usually takes 25 minutes.
“They disagree with my politics and want to antagonize me.” Shubert said. “We are important workers who are fighting the pandemic. I don’t know how not letting hospital workers go home makes my environment safer. “
For low-income workers, who depend more on public transportation, curfew costs can be measured in dollars and cents, said Erica Groshen, a faculty member at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations and Labor and a former US Bureau commissioner. Labor Statistics.
At the Martin Luther King Community Hospital Jr. in Willowbrook, a neighborhood in South LA, Sofia Cuevas said her coworkers at the hospital cafe, where she worked as a barista, had to forget about wages and leave work hours early to catch the train before curfew begins.
Cuevas, 25, said he has a car, so he has no trouble finishing his shift this week, which ends at 9:30 at night. At that time, the staff he saw left at the hospital were doctors and nurses on the night shift, and janitors and guards who cleaned the patient’s room.
“Being a Latina, I’m afraid I’ll be pulled over because you never know what can happen,” Cuevas said. “I have white skin, so I might be fine, but I don’t want to take the risk.”
Darren “Tree” Wallace, who was in the cleaning staff at Kaiser Permanente, a hospital on Sunset Boulevard, was worried that a red rectangular sticker behind his badge pointed to him as an important worker offering thin protection.
Wallace, who is black, moved to a temporary inn – a five-minute hotel room drive to the facility – on Monday because of safety concerns.
Policies that allocate hotel rooms for workers were initially negotiated by the International Trade Union Services Union of Western Trade Unions for staff who tested positive for the corona virus or worked overtime due to a pandemic.
When law enforcement is given the discretion in applying the law, people from stereotypical groups, especially those who are black, will experience discrimination, said Jody David Armor, a professor at the USC Gould School Law School who studies racial profiles and the use of excessive force. by the police.
“That was one of the points triggered by protests at home,” he said.
When formulating policies, Armor said, even the lowest level of nonviolence violations, lawmakers must ask, “Am I willing to live with the possibility that someone will die when this policy is implemented?”
Times staff writers Johana Bhuiyan and Samantha Masunaga contributed to this report.