OAKLAND (KCBS)—After a marathon meeting that ended early Wednesday morning, the Oakland City Council voted to approve the first step to banning protestors from bringing “tools of violence” to demonstrations.
The decision to move forward with the ordinance comes two weeks after downtown Oakland windows were broken and a waiter was hit with a hammer during the Zimmerman verdict protests.
Oakland Interim Police Chief Sean Whent, who attended the council meeting to publicly answer questions about the proposal, said such an ordinance could be helpful.
“If people are showing up to protest and we can see that they are carrying hammers or tools like wrenches or clubs then we would be able to detain those people before they get to the point of being able to break windows or commit violent acts,” he said.
The ordinance, however, is not welcome by all and its critics were also present to address their concerns.
“We don’t want the targeting of first amendment activity with vague ordinances that could be abused and uses to target political activity,” Linda Lye, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California said. “Is the intent to allow people to carry hammers to Raiders’ events but not political protests? That kind of singling out of expressive activity based on the content of the speech really is, potentially, problematic.”
A similar ordinance proposed during last year’s Occupy protests was dropped.
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