The Sacramento City Council refused to rescind the draconian "Son of Patriot Act" parade ordinance last night, in spite of overwhelming opposition to keeping this travesty on the books. It's time to think about running progressive candidates against the current Council members!
Here's the article in today's Bee about the City Council meeting last night.In spite of massive opposition to the "Son of Patriot Act" parade ordinance,the city council unanimously decided to not rescind the ordinance. They instead redirected staff to modify the unconstitutional ordinance.
It was one of the most bizarre meetings I've ever been to. The public testimony featured a self-described "libertarian" who supported the ordinance, a wacky "gun rights" lobbyist who supporting outlawing slingshots and water bottles, and a video by Dave Jenest's Citizen's Community Watch /Patriot Watch that showed the "evils" of black bloc anarchists at the Sacramento Ag Expo last year. The video was so bad that It was almost like a self parody of right wing stereotypes and jargon about anti-globalization and anti--war activists.
I, like much of the audience, was rolling in laughter throughout much of the video. It was much better than Reality TV could ever be.
I applaud the many activists that spoke passionately about the need to get rid of "Son of Patriot Act." As presented by the representative of Vietnam Veterans of America and organizer of the annual Sacramento Veterans Day parade, the most crazy thing is that this ordinance would outlaw Veterans Day parades, since the veterans carry flag poles, guns, banners and other materials that are illegal under the ordinance! Now get this... the Son of Patriot Act outlaws public displays of patriotism by veterans!
I'm writing an article on the City Council's descent into repressive absurdity for BPM and other publications. The quotes I got in the meeting last night from some of the 10 right wingers that attended, as well as the lame statements from City Council members, shows the depths into which our country and city has descended. I couldn't make this stuff up even if I tried.
Was last night a weird, bad dream or did it really happen? I guess it really happened, because Terri Hardy's article confirms it.
Council revisits controversial parade law
By Terri Hardy -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, September 15, 2004
A controversial parade ordinance that mandates what can be worn or carried during protests was under review by the Sacramento City Council late Tuesday night.
City officials, including Police Chief Albert Nájera, and residents of Citizens Community Watch urged the council to pass a revised version, saying it provided a good balance between constitutional rights and protecting
The public from potentially violent protests.
"We are very aware that we need a carefully developed ordinance, but mindful of the need to protect citizens' rights of free speech," Nájera said.
Activists and civil rights lawyers pressed for the council to rescind the ordinance and start over, saying both the existing and proposed ordinance were unconstitutional and unreasonable.
Mark Merin, a civil rights attorney, said the city already had laws and codes that would allow police to deal with any violence or vandalism.
Merinhas warned city officials that if they don't rescind the ordinance, a
class-action lawsuit will be filed against the city.
"You make criminals of passers-by who want to join a parade," Merin said. "It's ridiculous to take a flagpole and call it a weapon, but that is what this ordinance does."
Deputy City Attorney Rich Archibald conceded that under the new or proposed ordinance a flagpole would be considered a weapon. Moreover, he said, Things that are traditionally allowed during a veterans parade, including Carrying weapons, would not be allowed under the ordinance.
"Rules have to be applied across the board," Archibald said. "It's a difficult issue."
In June 2003, the City Council passed the parade ordinance as an emergency measure, as officials braced for the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology. Since that event, the scope and severity of the ordinance have been questioned, including bans on wearing bandannas or carrying signs with "lengths of lumber" more than 2 inches wide.
City Council members decided the ordinance had been hastily written and overbroad and decided to look at revising the language.