Labor advocates and their supporters beat back a proposed city ordinance last month that would have curtailed the rights of protesters in Sacramento.
Under the proposed measure, certain items commonly found at protests would have become illegal. Police had suggested the measure, saying it was an effort to ensure protests did not turn violent, as they did last year at the state capitol when far-right groups caused a fight that included people being stabbed.
But members of the Labor community and other activists pointed out that some of the items the ordinance would have banned – such as pepper spray, glass bottles, metal or plastic pipes – were items that could be deemed ordinary, everyday personal possessions, or ones that were needed for self defense.
More than 20 speakers at a City Hall meeting where the proposal was discussed pushed back hard, arguing the measure was little more than an attempt to curtail protesting in the city and give police more opportunity to arrest those engaged in their First Amendment rights.
“This law would just give police greater power to arrest peaceful protesters,” said Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizio Sasso of the measure. “It’s a bad idea that hurts the people, and Labor is against any measure that would keep us from making our voices heard.”
Other items, such as a ban on weapons including knives and swords or balloons filled with flammable, biohazard or other noxious matter, would already be illegal under other laws, speakers pointed out.
The proposal was placed on the City Council agenda as an urgent matter without first being vetted in committee, the normal process for new laws. But faced with community dissent, the item was pulled from the Jan. 22 agenda and instead will be sent to the city’s law and legislation committee for more public input.
“Since the posting of this agenda item last week, we have received a lot of feedback and questions from the community,” City Manager Howard Chan said in a statement. “It has become clear that this proposed ordinance would benefit from more discussion and community input. It now will be sent to the Law & Legislation Committee for further study before potentially returning to the full Council.”