Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Motion to Ban Items That Can be 'Weaponized' at Protests Fails at City Council Meeting

Poles, sticks, glass bottles, rocks were used as weapons during the May riots in Santa Monica

In light of the recent demonstrations nationwide, where "violence erupted between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators and violence against law enforcement personnel," the Santa Monica City Council tried at Tuesday's meeting to pass an emergency ordinance which would ban certain items that "can be weaponized" at public assemblies and community events.

But after some council members questioned some of its provisions and offered many amendments – in essence weakening it, the Council voted against the proposal.

The proposed ordinance was designed "to promote the safety and welfare of those who engage in peaceful, protests, public assemblies, and community events, as well as the safety and welfare of City residents, city businesses, and visitors who are affected by such peaceful protests, public assemblies, and community events," city staff said in a report.

"It's a proactive tool," Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told the Council Tuesday night.

The proposal would have banned such items as "poles, plastic pipes or wooden sticks unattached to a sign, metal pipes, projectiles like rocks and pieces of concrete, glass bottles, aerosol sprays, shields, chains, baseball or softball bats and objects with sharpened ends." Some of these items were used as weapons last year during the May 31 riots in Santa Monica, according to city officials.

In its report, city staff wrote that several cities, including Los Angeles, Laguna Beach and Berkeley, have put in place similar ordinances to protect the public safety and welfare, staff said.

In its recommendation to the Council, staff said the proposed ordinance was "presented because of the uncertainty and unpredictability of when one or more individuals may choose to seize the opportunity of an otherwise peaceful protest or public assembly to engage in violent conduct." And that would be "dangerous to bystanders, protesters and police officers," staff added.

But those comments didn't sway four members of the Council and the motion failed.


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