Torches, mace, nunchucks, shields and baseball bats are among a long list of items that could soon be banned at public protests and demonstrations in Los Angeles under a proposed amended ordinance set to be considered by the City Council Tuesday.
The move comes in direct response to recent violence at protests in Berkeley, Charlottesville, Virginia, and other cities.
“As we have seen in demonstrations around the country, these events are becoming violent more frequently,” the motion that led to the draft amended ordinance states. “We are seeing devices such as poles, sticks, signs, as well as certain types of containers including glass bottles and many other items used as improvised weapons thus resulting in injuries and property damage.”
The amended ordinance contains a long list of items that would be banned at any protests, demonstrations, rallies, picket lines and public assemblies, including firearms, knives, swords, shields, baseball or softball bats, aerosol spray, tear gas, mace, glass bottles, axes, ice picks, nunchucks, Tasers, projectile launchers, bottles or water guns filled with hazardous liquid, open flame torches and ball bearings.
The city would also regulate signs and banners and the handles they’re mounted on. Signs and banners would have to be made of soft material such as cloth, plastic or cardboard. Metal sticks would be banned, while wood or plastic sticks would not be allowed unless they were 1/4 inch or less in thickness, two inches or less in width or not exceed 3/4 inches in dimension. Plastic sticks under this dimension would have to be hollow and not filled with any material.
Wood sticks of the same dimension are already banned under the Section 55.07 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, which is the section that would be amended.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has questioned the legality of the amended ordinance, but the City Attorney’s Office has argued that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 upheld Section 55.07, affirming the city’s right to regulate items at public demonstrations, although it only limited the dimension of wood sticks.
At an August protest, tiki torch-carrying white supremacists and neo- Nazis in Charlottesville marched around a statue of Robert E. Lee. The next day, the group squared off against some counter-protesters in a day of violence in which dozens were injured and one counter-protester was killed. Mace, long sticks and shields — all of which would be banned under the new L.A. ordinance — were used by perpetrators during the violence.
—City News Service
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