L.A. City Council Wants to Restrict Protests at Officials’ Homes

The council voted 13-1 on Tuesday for the city attorney to draft an order that prohibits protests within 300 feet of a target’s home

Just days after a group of anti-vaccination protestors showed up outside the home of Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, the District 6 councilwoman introduced an emergency motion that would ban protests within 300 feet of a target’s home. The motion was approved 13-1 on Tuesday to be drafted by the city attorney.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Martinez said that a group of protestors who held an anti-vaccine rally Sunday in Santa Monica came to her home later that evening and began banging on her door and windows, harassing her neighbors, screaming obscenities into her daughter’s bedroom window, and threatening Martinez’s life. Protestors have also shown up at the home of Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who co-introduced the motion with Martinez.

Martinez also said that video footage of that rally—which was posted on social media—showed a participant holding up a sign with council members’ home addresses and saying, “Whoever votes yes [on the ordinance to mandate vaccinations with limited exceptions, to enter indoor public spaces], we’re coming to your doors.”

“No staffers, no family members of ours should be subjected to this kind of treatment,” Martinez said during Tuesday’s meeting. “My address and my home is not a public place for you to come and protest my actions on this council.” She explained that people should instead protest at council members’ offices or city hall.

The motion requests that the city attorney draft an ordinance, which would go into effect immediately, similar to one in San Jose that’s survived legal challenges. Martinez’s motion also states that there is “an urgent need to protect the elected officials and their staff from threatened intimidation at their residences.”

Similar incidents of protestors—from both the left and right—showing up at the homes of government officials and staff at all hours of the day have heightened over the last year and half, Martinez said.

“I’m done with the threats of violence to me and my family, the intimidation of elected officials, especially to women across the country, and with the vandalization of private property,” Martinez said in a statement. “We need to take action now to protect people in their homes from targeted protests. We cannot wait until someone gets hurt, or even killed, to act.”

The city already has an existing law that prohibits “targeted demonstrations” within 100 feet of a residence, but that law does not forbid “peaceful picketing or distributing pamphlets, going door-to-door, alone or in groups, in residential neighborhoods,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Councilwoman Nithya Raman cast the only dissenting vote on Tuesday, saying that the city council should prioritize strengthening the existing law, rather than creating a new one that “will likely have the exact same problems in its design and in its enforcement.”

Councilman Mike Bonin, who said that protestors have vandalized his property and shouted things like “White Lives Matter” and other “offensive things” while his Kindergarten-aged son was home, said he was concerned that the proposed ordinance would cause more issues for his neighbors.

“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,” Bonin said before the vote on Tuesday. “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.”

Before the vote, Councilman Paul Krekorian, who supported the motion, warned that there will be people who won’t agree with the council’s decision.

“There will be people who will be saying, ‘How can the council interfere with our democratic rights?’ and ‘Why are they doing this?'” Krekorian said. “They just don’t want to hear protestors … That’s all just rubbish. That is just nonsense, so save the strain on your thumbs and don’t even bother with that stupid storyline that you’re going to be putting out there [on social media].”

He added, “What we’re trying to address here is the politics of the bully. It has nothing to do with the democratic process.”

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