LA Considers Banning Torches, Mace, Bats From Protests

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Torches, mace, nunchucks, shields and baseball bats are among a list of items that could soon be banned at public protests and demonstrations under an amended ordinance set to be discussed by the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

The motion that led to the City Attorney’s Office drafting an amended ordinance that would expand the list of banned items was introduced by Councilman Mitchell Englander. It cited the recent violence and protests in Berkeley and Charlottesville, Va., as reasons for the city to further limit what items can be brought to a protest.

“As we have seen in demonstrations around the country, these events are becoming violent more frequently,” the motion 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 would include a long list of banned items 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, ball bearings and more.

Under the amended ordinance, the city would 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, while wood or metal sticks would need to be 1/4 inch or less in thickness, two inches or less in width or not exceed 3/4 inches in dimension.

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 when a car allegedly driven by a white supremacist crashed into a crowd.

“We’re looking at best practices. These are rallies and protests and meetings where these issues have occurred in the past,” Englander said at a meeting of the Public Safety Committee meeting on Oct. 11.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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