On Tuesday, Los Angeles passed new legislation that creates a fine-tapping system for those targeted by illegal protests. By a 12-2 vote, the council voted to repeal a former law prohibiting picketing within 100 feet of residential dwellings and replacing it with a law prohibiting picketing within 300 feet.
Furthermore, the ordinance allows one to seek $1,000 in damages for each violation if they are “offended” by the unlawful picketing. The protest target may also be among the aggrieved parties. The City Council did not discuss the law before it was passed. There were several communities on the Westside that voted against the ordinance, including those represented by Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman.
Candidate for mayor Joe Buscaino abstained from voting. According to Attorney Sari Zureiqat, an ACLU attorney in Southern California, the new law will make it more difficult for protesters to reach their intended targets with their messages.
A football field away from either side is the minimum distance the city says you have to be to target someone’s home,” Zureiqat said. “It might only be a few blocks away, or it might be very far.”
Earlier this week, Zuréiqat questioned whether the City Council adequately described the reasoning behind its desire to increase buffer distances. As a matter of fact, my first thought is, “Why is this ordinance needed at all?” said Zureiqat.
Demonstrators on both the left and the right have been demonstrating outside the homes of public officials for the past year and a half, demanding that mask mandates, rent forgiveness, and other issues be addressed. A group of anti-vaccine protesters demonstrated outside Mayor Nury Martinez’s home last month, shouting into her daughter’s bedroom, vandalizing her car. Nury Martinez’s car was vandalized earlier this year at her house by two people.
At the City Council meeting Tuesday, opponents of the new law demonstrated outside members’ residences. Ricci Sergienko, an activist with the group People’s City Council, alleged that Martinez obtained the law only after anti-vaccination protesters attacked her home. In addition, he said, the council was keeping a blind eye on clashes between anti-vaccination protesters and the opponents.
Sergienko said: “Suddenly you feel threatened, so you want to pass this law.”. In the 1990s, anti-abortion activists attacked abortion workers at their homes in San Jose, which led to the city passing a similar law.
A claim for violation of the picketing law or refusal to obey it may be brought by aggrieved parties against people who are in violation, conspiring to violate it, or might violate it. If demonstrators do not aim at a particular home, they can march through a neighborhood.
The new restrictions have mixed feelings for political strategist Jasmyne Cannick. The purchase of drugs by Ed Buck in his West Hollywood home led to two men’s deaths, resulting in Cannick joining protests outside Buck’s home. The protest at Buck’s apartment building was unlikely to garner enough attention to illustrate Buck’s plight, Cannick said.
Garcetti said he would like to read the legislation first before deciding whether to support it. Mayor Bloomberg said the 1st Amendment does not prohibit targeting private homes when asked whether he would support the initiative.
Mayor Garcetti said he didn’t grasp why protesters target residences when “there is a public space available to make yourself heard, to make your protest, to express your voice,” he added. The council must vote a second time on Tuesday’s vote.