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Latina woman says Redondo Beach police targeted her for having dog on pier

People walk past a black and white SUV with the words "Police Redondo Beach" on its doors.
A Latina woman says she was racially profiled while eating on the Redondo Pier by local police.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Latina woman says she was racially profiled and violently arrested by Redondo Beach police for having her service dog with her on the pier, even though other people with animals were left alone.

Luz Maria Flores shared a video from her encounter with police and said officers approached her and her sister while they were eating. (Warning: The video contains obscenity.)

In the video, officers tell Flores she is not allowed to have a dog on the pier. She tells officers her dog, Yare, is a service animal, but she does not have the animal’s paperwork with her.

The officers asked for her identification and then told her she was going to be detained, Flores said in an Instagram post. She then began recording the encounter on her phone.

“I didn’t know how to react when the officer told me that my dog wasn’t allowed on the pier. I don’t think he liked my first response,” Flores, 30, told The Times. “They didn’t give me any time to respond.”

The video, taken about 7:30 p.m. Friday, starts with Flores asking why she’s being detained. An unidentified officer says, “For having a dog on the pier.” The city’s municipal code does not allow dogs on the Redondo Beach Pier.

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Flores points out there are other people on the pier with dogs and says the police were questioning her because she is a Latino. While police are talking to Flores, another leashed dog can be seen in the background. Four officers surround her as she records the video, her voice growing more fraught as the officers keep telling her that she could be arrested.

“I’ve seen f— white people walking up and down this pier with dogs, and you only come and stop me,” Flores says in the video. She accuses the officers of being racist.

“This has nothing to do with race, ma’am,” one officer says to her. “Sit down over here at the table. We don’t end up wanting to have to take you to jail.”

Throughout the three-minute video, Flores tells officers she is trying to leave, but they repeatedly inform her she’s being detained. In the video, Flores can be seen holding the leash of Yare, a black Mexican hairless dog known as a Xoloitzcuintle.

“I’m trying to leave,” Flores says in the video.

“You are not allowed to leave. You are being detained,” the officer says.

She accuses the two officers of profiling her and points out that other people are walking around with dogs on the pier.

“This has nothing to do with race. Unfortunately, you’re making this about race,” one officer says.

“You’re making it about race when you profile me when I’m sitting down having a meal with my sister,” Flores replies.

“You’re 10 seconds away from being handcuffed and going to jail,” the officer says. “You’re resisting.”

The officer then tells her she’s being arrested and pulls her arms behind her back.

Flores screams, “Don’t touch me.”

She later can be heard in the video shouting, “I just had my dog with me on the pier.”

Redondo Beach police confirmed Wednesday that Flores was arrested on suspicion of having a dog on the pier and obstructing an officer. Jail records show her bail was set at $10,000, and she was released from jail Saturday morning. Flores said that police claimed she was inebriated when she was arrested, and that she was not handed a citation for having her dog on the pier.

Her sister, Nancy Flores, 25, was also arrested on suspicion of obstruction, jail records show.

Luz Maria Flores, who graduated from UCLA and is planning to attend law school, according to her Instagram account, said on social media that her dog was released to her a few hours later.

Two weeks ago, the Redondo Beach Police Department posted on its Instagram account a photo of an officer posing with “Dog Whisperer” César Millan and four leashed dogs at the pier. The department said Millan was “given a warning” about having dogs on the pier. It was not immediately clear whether the officer in the photo is the same man who arrested Flores, but she thinks he was the same officer.

“It’s just so shocking, because this has been our beach since we were children. My parents went to the beach when they were first dating,” Flores said. “Now all of this is just etched in my memory.”

Flores said she has not been able to watch the video she posted Tuesday because she’s “not ready to relive the experience yet.”

“But I am okay,” she says online. “I meditated on my law school journey as I was sitting in my jail cell. They will not break my spirit. My journey is clear to me now more so than ever. I look forward to being a civil rights attorney in a few years so I can file a class-action lawsuit.

“I’m not forgiving nor forgetting,” she continued. “They just birthed a rival and will have to answer for their prejudice, and injustice towards black and brown people.”

Redondo Beach police declined to comment on the incident. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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