In the wake of violent protests that have gripped America this year – namely, the Charlottesville rally – the Los Angeles City Council is drafting a controversial list of items that would be banned from protests.
While many critics debate whether or not the proposed move to ban such items as pepper spray, water cannons, Tasers, bricks, hammers, cans of spray paint, gas masks from rallies, demonstrations and public assemblies, is a violation of constitutional rights, would the new measure make Los Angeles protests safer?
This is the question we asked our police misconduct attorney at JML Law, a reputable Los Angeles-based law firm that has represented hundreds of clients injured in protests as well as those falsely arrested in protests and wrongfully accused of protest violence.
What would be banned from protests?
The council’s move was triggered by the Charlottesville rally, a protest organized by white nationalists, where one person died and 38 others were injured. At least 11 arrests were made during the violent protest, and many participants of the rally used improvised weapons in bloody clashes.
Now, the Los Angeles City Council wants to ban a plethora of items, including tiki torches, baseball bats, catapults or projectile launchers, rocks, bricks, pepper spray, water cannons, Tasers, even signs and banners that aren’t made of a soft material, (cloth, paper, plastic or cardboard), among many other items.
The proposed ban could result in a large number of arrests of protest participants carrying the “potential weapons.” The blurred line between a potential weapon and a non-dangerous item is what makes some civil liberties groups concerned.
Some argue that the proposed ban on items in protests in Los Angeles would strip rights from people engaged in a constitutionally protected activity. Critics argue that the law would violate the 1st Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.
While, in theory, the ban could make protests safer in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California, our police misconduct attorney at JML Law warns that under the strict ban, you may end up getting arrested for carrying an item you would never think could be “dangerous” (hence, banned).
Ban of protest items: double-edged sword
While it’s true that all the items that the Los Angeles City Council wants to ban can be used as weapons, they could also be used as a means to protect yourself if you’re attacked at a protest.
It’s a double-edged sword ban that could leave protesters little means to protect themselves in self-defense situations. Such items as shields and pepper spray could be used for self-defense at rallies, but they can also be used to injure or even kill other demonstrators.
As the council is drafting the proposed ban on items used in protests, even more objects could end up on the ever-growing list of banned items. After all, soda cans have long been used as weapons in protests, but does it mean they should be banned from rallies, demonstrations, and public assemblies?
Technically, even a pen can be used to injure people, but does it mean police officers should be arresting people carrying pens during protests?
What to do after a false arrest?
Our Los Angeles police misconduct attorney at JML Law warns that the ban would give rise to even more false arrests and wrongful convictions during protests. It could also result in more police shooting and police brutality during protests if police officers will think carrying a baseball bat makes you a potential murderer.
If you were falsely arrested in a protest or police officers used excessive force on you or any of your friends or loved ones, seek the legal advice of our police misconduct attorney to hold officers and law enforcement officials accountable for their unlawful actions.
Call JML Law’s Los Angeles offices at 818-610-8800 today or send an email to get a free initial consultation.