Update: The proposed ordinance to ban certain items and weapons from protests has been removed from the Sacramento City Council’s agenda, according to City Manager Howard Chan. Chan released a statement Tuesday:
“Since the posting of this agenda item last week, we have received a lot of feedback and questions from the community. 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.”
SACRAMENTO — A proposed emergency ordinance could mean Sacramento police are preparing for more protests less than a year after two officers fatally shot unarmed Stephon Clark.
The measure would ban a number of weapons from knives and firearms to pepper spray and balloons. They’re all items police say have been used to harm both demonstrators and members of law enforcement in the past.
“Well, our city has a lot of protests and it’s important that we make sure that everybody stays safe,” said Sacramento police Sgt. Vance Chandler.
But the timing of the emergency proposal is raising some eyebrows with the district attorney’s office announcing a decision on the Clark case coming soon.
Still, police say the purpose of the ordinance is to ensure peace and safety.
Similar ordinances are already in practice in places like Los Angeles.
“We don’t know when it’s coming out,” Chandler said. ” We do know it is coming out and we want to make sure that it is in place. We could have a protest tomorrow and we want to make sure that for any potential protest that this is in place to keep our community safe.”
For demonstrators, the proposed measure is striking a nerve.
“It feels like they are trying to criminalize protesting,” said Tanya Faison with the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Faison told FOX40 she routinely carries pepper spray with her as a form of protection and not being able to do so would take away her ability to defend herself.
“We have the right to free speech,” she said. “We have our First Amendment right to protest. We should be able to feel safe and what they’re doing is stripping us of what keeps us safe.”
Those with the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento, an independent group that maintains order at marches, are also concerned about the proposal.
“We just don’t see this ordinance as justified in their reasons that are cited in that exhibit,” said NLG President Elizabeth Kim.
Kim said there are already provisions in place that ban major weapons at protests and the vast majority of demonstrations in the city remain civil.
“We’ve had so many marches and protests consecutively since the shooting on March 18th of last year and we have had less than on one hand incidents of violence or vandalism in response to that particular incident,” Kim told FOX40.
According to the report, the protests in the weeks following the Clark shooting last year cost the city more than $800,000, largely because they say demonstrators used improvised weapons to vandalize property.