Noah Christiansen, 20, stood against a wall with his hands cuffed behind his back for over two hours.
He had just been arrested for violating Los Angeles County’s 6 p.m. curfew Tuesday night while protesting for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and an end to, what he called, “the police state.”
“I wasn’t even begging for mercy or anything, I was like ‘I know I’m going to get arrested and this is an act of civil disobedience,’” the second-year political science major said. “I’m getting arrested for George Floyd and the many other black individuals who have died at the hands of the state.”
Christiansen had been marching along with thousands of other activists down Hollywood Boulevard and throughout the city. He said, of what he saw, the protest remained peaceful the whole time.
“We marched in no particular [direction], there was no roadmap or anything,” Christiansen said. “Whenever we saw cops, we would just go the other way.”
Some protesters, he said, would try to engage officers in participating with the group by kneeling, to no avail. Christiansen said the main group tried to avoid confrontation or contact with the police as much as possible.
Activism is not something new for the Long Beach State student.
While still in high school, Christiansen made international headlines when he challenged a congress member over gun control. His use of harsh language when addressing Rep. Mark Amodei ultimately got him expelled.
Although Tuesday’s protest wasn’t Christiansen’s first, it was his first time being arrested.
“I’ve gotten in trouble a lot, but I’m proud of what I’m getting in trouble for,” Christiansen said. “I’m not getting in trouble for violence, I’m just trying to stick up for what’s right.”
Christiansen said that Los Angeles Police Department officers used a common tactic known as “boxing” to separate the crowds, breaking up the major group of protesters into smaller gatherings. By the time Christiansen made it to Sunset Boulevard, where he was arrested, the number of those with him had been reduced to about 30.
Curfew in L.A. County had been set at 6 p.m., which Christiansen said he was aware of as he protested.
He decided to keep marching because he felt he had no way out of the situation at hand and had brought emergency supplies, like goggles and a first-aid-kit, in case things got out of hand.
“Even if I did want to get an Uber, I wouldn’t have been able to,” Christiansen said. “It was very, very difficult to even leave, so I was like ‘screw it.’”
LAPD said in a Tweet that “Violators [of the curfew] will be subject to arrest,” and sure enough, Christiansen was.
As police began to approach, the CSULB student dropped his bags and put his hands in the air. Having watched news coverage of other similar events, Christiansen said he was prepared for the worst.
“I figured, ‘why would I run, they’re going to shoot me anyways,’” Christiansen said. “I expected to get shot and was just sort of waiting for the bullet.”
Rubber bullet guns and tear gas launchers were pointed at the crowd, he said, but were never deployed.
An officer, who Christiansen identified as Officer Garcia of the LAPD, placed him in handcuffs and later replaced them with zip-tie cuffs, which are commonly used in mass detention situations like those at a protest.
Christiansen alleges that the officer used profanity against him while he was being arrested against and other protesters. According to Christiansen, Officer Garcia told reporters to start taking photos of his arrest.
Once he was detained, that’s when Christiansen said the situation got worse.
“Because I’m a political science major, I think I know a little bit about the law, so I knew they weren’t going to keep me for a week,” Christiansen said. “I figured it would be a quick holding, which it pretty much was. It just felt like a long, long time.”
Placed under arrest around 9 p.m., Christiansen and the other protesters were made to stand against a wall for over two hours. He allegedly heard one officer say that they wanted to “keep them there as long as they could,” to which another responded “that they should just get it over with.”
Christiansen and the others arrested were then placed on an L.A. Sheriff’s bus and taken to UCLA’s Jackie Robinson field, the LAPD’s newest processing location for curfew violators.
“I thought we were going to jail because that’s what the cops were saying,” Christiansen said. “It was honestly super scary because at nighttime you don’t know where you’re at and it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
Humor, Christiansen said, is something he’s always used to process situations, especially high-intensity ones like this one.
“I, as a white person, can get arrested and not have to deal with what black people deal with,” Christiansen said. “So it wasn’t as frightening for me.”
He continued to make jokes while being transported on the bus and even as he got off and was led to the booking center.
“The first thing I said when I got off the bus was ‘this isn’t a Denny’s,’” he said.
LAPD finally released Christiansen from custody around 2 a.m. on Wednesday with a misdemeanor charge of curfew violation. In L.A. County, this can lead to either a charge of no more than $1,000 or a prison sentence of no more than six months, per LACC section 2.68.320.
But Christiansen wasn’t out of the woods just yet. The county-wide curfew posed a dilemma for how to get home safely and legally.
“We were in an area where there was no curfew, so we can’t go back to L.A. County because we will be violating curfew, and we can’t have someone pick us up from L.A. County because they’d be violating curfew,” Christiansen said.
Ultimately, he was able to find an Uber driver who was “willing to risk it” and made it home around 3 a.m., at which point he realized he had lost feeling in his feet from being forced to stand for such an extended period of time.
“I’m recovering, making sure I get that blood circulation back to my toes,” Christansen said Wednesday afternoon.
Christiansen will have to appear in court by November 12, but said he will have to reach out to bail bonds groups to help cover the costs.
Despite this experience being what he described as “mentally anguishing,” Christiansen is not giving up on activism anytime soon.
“If anything, I now want to go out there more and bring even more heat to the protests, really go for it,” Christiansen said.