Protest outside mayor's house
Protestors outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home in Hancock Park in 2016. Courtesy OnScene.TV

The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit protests within 300 feet of the target’s residence, a policy that was developed at council members’ request following anti-vaccination activists showing up at two of their homes at the end of last month.

The motion to request the ordinance was introduced by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell on Aug. 31. Two days earlier, an anti-vaccination protester at a Santa Monica rally shared the addresses of council members and encouraged people to go to their homes if they vote yes on an ordinance to require at least partial proof of vaccination before entering most indoor public spaces.

“We have one week to stop the (vaccination) passports … if it’s unanimous, we’ve lost. Sharpen your knives, get your guns, get your food now,” the protester said while holding a sign with council members’ home addresses. “…. We find out who voted yes and you show up at their house. We need to intimidate these people.”

After the rally, protesters, gubernatorial recall candidate David Alexander Bramante, showed up at the homes of Martinez and O’Farrell.

Before the council voted on the motion, Martinez discussed the experience of having protesters show up at her home.

“I had a group of folks show up at my doorstep, banging on my door, banging on my windows, harassing my neighbors, screaming obscenities into my daughter’s bedroom and yelling into bullhorns asking me to come out and threatening my life,” she said. “Members, quite frankly, I’m done with the entire thing. I’m done with the threats … I am prepared to put an end to this.”

Martinez said people who want to protest elected officials should go to their offices, not their homes.

“No staffers, no family members of ours should be subjected to this kind of treatment. My address and my home is not a public place for you to come and protest,” she said.

Speaking from City Hall on Monday during an unrelated news conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti similarly said that it was important to protect the rights of private citizens, including neighbors of public officials and people who live with public officials. He added that some of the “darkest chapters” in the U.S. involve people targeting private homes.

The draft ordinance states that a person who is “aggrieved” by violators of the ordinance can sue for damages. The violator may also face a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation. The draft ordinance also includes an urgency clause under which the ordinance would go into effect immediately upon publication, instead of after 30 days, due to the “urgent need to protect elected officials and their staff from threatened intimidation at their residences.”

Los Angeles’ municipal code currently prohibits “targeted demonstrations focused upon and at or about a private residence” that take place within 100 feet of the address.

Councilwoman Nithya Raman cast the sole dissenting vote on the motion to develop the ordinance, saying the city should focus on enforcing its existing law instead of adding an ordinance that “will likely have the exact same problems in its design and its enforcement.”

Councilman Mike Bonin voted for the motion but said he has some concerns about the potential ordinance, saying that the city needs to focus on enforcement of existing laws, as well.

“What I want to know is when this comes back as an ordinance, what are we doing to actually deal with the problem that is very apparent to us right now. Are there any charges of inciting violence that are being brought against the guy who was giving that speech (in Santa Monica) the other day? Are there any prosecutions of the assaults that Proud Boys are doing upon (KPCC) reporter Frank Stoltze a couple of weeks ago? There seem to be acts of violence and acts of threats that could be prosecuted. That may be a more direct way to get about this issue.”

The City Council will consider the ordinance during its 10 a.m. meeting. The ordinance requires unanimous approval to pass on its first reading. If it falls short, it will be reconsidered the following week, when it needs 12 votes to pass. Ordinances typically require a majority approval on the second reading, but due to the urgency clause, this ordinance would require 12 votes.

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