Weapons and various items that could be used as weapons will be banned from demonstrations, protests, marathons, parades and other public events in Huntington Beach under an ordinance the City Council unanimously adopted this week.
The list of items attendees will now be prohibited from bringing to such events includes baseball or softball bats; lengths of lumber, wood or pipe; aerosol sprays, including pepper spray and bear repellent; projectile launchers, balloons and water cannons; glass bottles; open flame torches; shields; and bricks and rocks.
The ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days, also requires signs, posters and banners displayed during public events to be made only of soft materials or cardboard no more than a quarter-inch thick — though they can still be attached to thin or hollow wood or plastic materials.
Violations would be considered misdemeanors and punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
Police Chief Robert Handy said there’s been an uptick in public gatherings that draw protesters and disruptions in recent years. In some cases, those have turned violent, leading to numerous arrests at events locally and across the state.
“We’ve had officers injured,” Handy said.
At an event, he said, “We would like to take proactive action ... instead of waiting for an assault.”
The text of the new ordinance was updated ahead of Tuesday’s meeting to make it clear that concealed carry permit holders and government employees authorized to carry weapons can still do so at public events. Previously, concerns were raised about whether the ordinance would create issues with uniformed and government employees participating in parades and other ceremonial affairs.
Councilman Erik Peterson pointed out that one condition for having a permitted concealed weapon is “you aren’t allowed to participate in a protest anyway.”
“Hopefully we aren’t going down a slippery slope with a heavy hand,” Peterson said, offering “kids with squirt guns” at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing as an example of something the city doesn’t need to focus its attention on.
“We’ve seen squirt guns filled with urine and other things,” Handy said, “and I believe our officers are very good at using their discretion.”
Sclafani writes for Times Community News.