Huntington Beach

Weapons ban at parades, protests OKd

A POLITICAL PARADE in March 2017 at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach turned violent when supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with “antifa” protesters (Photo by Jerry Howard).

An ordinance banning weapons – and items that could be used as weapons – from parades and protests held on public property was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council Tuesday night.

The council voted 7-0 in favor of introduction of the amendment to the city’s municipal code, which comes in reaction to events both local and national.

Citing protests and marches in the city and across the country, Police Chief Robert Handy said the increase in violence at such events are the result of “the increasing volume and current state of public discourse in society today.”

The ordinance bans a wide variety of items ranging from firearms, baseball bats and pepper spray to bricks, rocks and water guns. Even flags would be subject to some restrictions including the requirement that the poles on which they would be carried be composed of hollow plastic.

“Basically, it’s anything that could be used as a weapon,” he said. A revision of the ordinance included exemptions for persons with a concealed carry license for a firearm, or public employees (including the military – for example – in a parade) authorized to possess such a weapon in public.

Councilman Erik Peterson stated that he at first had some reservations about the ordinance on Second Amendment grounds, saying “I hope we’re not on a slippery slope.”  Handy assured the council that the ordinance was intended to preserve the First Amendment rights of the public while providing protections for police and people attending a protest or parade.

In March 2017, a parade at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach turned into a battle between supporters of President Donald Trump – the name of the event was “The Southern California Make America Great Again March” – and antifa [self-described “anti-fascists’] demonstrators. There was one reported pepper-spray injury and one arrest made.

Other, less-publicized events have taken place, said Handy, some of them impromptu and some organized officially with a city permit.  Some officers have been assaulted, he added, but none injured seriously.

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