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File #: Ord 21-6    Version:
Type: Ordinance Status: Archived
In control: City Council
Final action: 3/3/2021
Title: Amending Chapter 366A of the Legislative Code entitled “Parades, Races and Public Assemblies” to prohibit possession of certain items at such events. (To be withdrawn)
Sponsors: Amy Brendmoen
Attachments: 1. Ord 21-6 - Anneka Munsell email 3-1-21, 2. Ord 21-6 - April Mootz email 3-1-21, 3. Ord 21-6 - Carrie Pomeroy email 2-27-21, 4. Ord 21-6 - Jeremy Stomberg email 2-28-21, 5. Ord 21-6 - Skyla Thiel email 2-28-21, 6. Ord 21-6 - Skyla Thiele voice mail 2-28-21, 7. Ord 21-6 - James E. Wilkinson email 2-23-21, 8. Ordinance 21-6 , Jana Floyd email, 9. Ord 21-6 , Coly Intemann email, 10. Rachstanton Email, 11. Scott Email, 12. ORD 21-6 Ward 2 Public Comments

Title

Amending Chapter 366A of the Legislative Code entitled “Parades, Races and Public Assemblies” to prohibit possession of certain items at such events.  (To be withdrawn)

 

Body

 

SECTION 1

 

WHEREAS, it is imperative that individuals engaging in peaceful expressive public activity, and law enforcement personnel dedicated to protecting such activity, be allowed to do so without suffering injury; and

 

 

WHEREAS, numerous protests and public assemblies conducted throughout the nation in cities such as Charlottesville, St. Louis, and Berkeley, as well as cities in Minnesota, such as Minneapolis and Saint Paul have erupted in violence between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, including massive destruction of property, and violence against law enforcement personnel; and

 

 

WHEREAS, individuals, acting alone or in concert with others, have used improvised weapons to inflict injury upon members of the public attending these events and law enforcement personnel responding to these events, thereby posing a real and serious threat to life and safety.  In addition, individuals, acting alone or in concert have also used improvised shields to conceal illegal activity, including but not limited to destruction or defacing of property, thereby posing a real and serious threat to property; and

 

 

WHEREAS,  various improvised items have been used to injure attendees and harm or incapacitate law enforcement officers, including wood and metal pipes, poles, bats, chains, projectiles (such as rocks, concrete, pellets and ball bearings), glass bottles and containers filled with inflammable or noxious substances, and aerosol sprays deployed to cause flames or attack olfactory systems.  In addition, spray paint has been used to deface and damage property; and

 

 

WHEREAS, the City of Saint Paul has a compelling interest in allowing individuals to engage in peaceful expressive public activity, while at the same time protecting those individuals and law enforcement personnel dedicated to protecting that activity; now therefore be it;

 

 

RESOLVED, that the Council wishes to allow individuals to engage in peaceful expressive public activity safely and without serious threat to life and safety; and for the law enforcement personnel dedicate to protecting that activity, to do so safely without serious threat to life and safety, and be it;

 

 

FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Saint Paul does hereby ordain:

 

 

SECTION 2

 

Section 366A.02 is hereby amended as follows:

 

Sec. 366A.02. - Definitions.

 

(a)  Chief of police means the chief of police of the city or his/her designee.

(b)  City means the City of Saint Paul.

(c)  Parade means any march, demonstration, procession, or motorcade, consisting of persons, animals or vehicles or a combination thereof upon the streets, sidewalks or other public grounds within the city that interferes with the normal flow or regulation of traffic upon the streets, sidewalks or other public grounds.

(d)  Parade, race or public assembly permit means a permit as required by this chapter.

(e)  Person means any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.

(f)  Public assembly means any meeting, demonstration, picket line, rally or gathering of five (5) or more than twenty-five (25) persons for a common purpose as a result of prior planning in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public grounds in a place open to the general public.

(g)  Race means any scheduled public event or gathering of persons for athletic events that move from one location to another such as bicycle or running races.

(h)  Sidewalk is any area or way set aside or open to the general public for purposes of pedestrian traffic, whether or not it is paved.

(i)  Street is any place or way set aside or open to the general public for purposes of vehicular traffic, including any berm or shoulder parkway, right-of-way or median strip thereof.

 

 

SECTION 3

 

Section 366A.03 is hereby amended as follows:

 

Sec. 366A.03. - Exceptions.

 

The permit requirement described in section 366A.01 shall not apply to the following:

(a)  Funeral processions;

(b)  Students going to and from school classes or participating in educational activities, provided that such conduct is under the immediate direction and supervision of the proper school authorities;

(c)  A governmental agency acting within the scope of its functions; and

(d)  Parades, races or public assemblies in parks, which are governed by Legislative Code Chapter 170.

(e)                     Public assemblies of less than 24 (twenty-four) persons.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 

 

SECTION 4

 

Section 366A.14 is hereby amended as follows:

 

Sec. 366A.14. - Prohibitions.

 

The following prohibitions shall apply to all parades, races, and public assemblies:

 

(a)  It shall be unlawful for any person to stage, present or conduct any parade, race, or public assembly without first having obtained a permit as herein provided;

 

(b)  It shall be unlawful for any person to participate in a parade, race, or public assembly for which the person knows a permit has not been granted;

 

(c)  It shall be unlawful for the chairperson or any person in charge of, or responsible for the conduct of, a duly licensed parade, race, or public assembly to knowingly fail to comply with any condition of the permit;

 

(d)  It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any parade, race, or public assembly activity that would constitute a substantial hazard to the public safety or that would materially interfere with or endanger the public peace or rights of residents to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their property;

 

(e)  It shall be unlawful for any person while attending or participating in any parade, race, or public assembly to carry, or possess, or use any of the following items or articles:

 

1.                      Any length of metal, lumber, wood, wood lath or similar material for purposes of displaying a sign, poster, plaque or notice, unless such object is one-fourth (¼) inch or less in thickness and two (2) inches or less in width, or if not generally rectangular in shape, such object shall not exceed three-fourths (¾) inch in its thickest dimension;.  Both ends of the lumber, wood or wood lath shall be blunt;

 

2.                      Any length of metal or plastic pipe, whether hollow or solid; provided, however, that hollow plastic piping not exceeding 3/4 inch in its thickest dimension and not exceeding 1/8 inch in wall thickness, and not filled with any material, liquid, gas or solid may be used solely to support a sign, banner, placard, puppet or other similar expressive display. Both ends of any metal or plastic pipe permissible under this subsection shall be blunt;

 

3.                     Signs, posters, banners, plaques or notices, whether or not mounted on a length of material permitted under Subdivisions 1 and 2 of this section, unless such sign, poster, banner, plaque or notice is constructed solely of soft material, such as cloth, paper, soft plastic capable of being rolled or folded, or cardboard material no greater than 1/4 inch in thickness;

 

4.                     Baseball or softball bats, regardless of composition or size; provided, however, that such items are permissible when configured of cloth, cardboard, soft plastic, foam or paper for expressive purposes;

 

5.                      Any aerosol spray, tear gas, mace, pepper spray or bear repellant;

 

6.                      Any projectile launcher or other device, such as a catapult or wrist rocket, which is commonly used for the purpose of launching, hurling or throwing any object, liquid, material or other substance, whether through force of air pressure, spring action or any other mechanism;

 

7.                      Dangerous items such as knives, swords, sabers or other bladed devices, axes, hatchets, ice picks, razor blades, nunchuks or martial arts weapons of any kind, box cutters, conducted electrical weapons (CEWs), including, but not limited to, Tasers or stun guns, metal/composite/wooden knuckles, or any chain greater than 20 inches in length or greater than 1/4 inch in diameter.

 

8.                      Balloons, bottles or any other container such as water cannons or water guns, filled with any flammable, bodily fluid, bodily waste, biohazard or other noxious matter, which is injurious, or nauseous, sickening or irritating to any of the senses.

 

9.                      Glass bottles, whether empty or filled;

 

10.                      Open flame torches, lanterns or other devices that utilize combustible materials such as gasoline, kerosene, propane or other fuel sources;

 

11.                      Shields made of metal, lumber, wood, wood lath, hard plastic or any combination thereof;

 

12.                     Bricks, rocks, pieces of asphalt, concrete, pellets or ball bearings.

 

13.                      Laser pointers or other laser lighting device(s) capable of emitting a beam of light, used to indicate, signal, mark or identify a person, place and/or object, regardless of the color and/or intensity of the emitted light.

 

 

(f)                      When feasible, excluding exigent circumstances, authorized peace officers, or employees, agents or representatives of the City will issue a warning before engaging in enforcement of the provisions of this section. Such warning(s) shall be sufficient if provided orally, by posted signs, or by amplified announcement.  Failure to issue a warning prior to enforcement will not affect the prosecution of any citations issued under this section.

 

(g)                      Authorized peace officers, or employees, agents or representatives of the City, shall be exempt from the provisions of this section when such officers, employees, agents or representatives of the City are engaged in official business of the City.

 

(h)                      Nothing in this section shall prohibit an individual from carrying a cane or using a walker or other device necessary for providing mobility so that the person may participate in a parade, race, or public assembly. Further, nothing in this section shall prohibit the imposition of specific conditions for activities expressly authorized under permit issued by the City of Saint Paul. Legislative

 

(fi)  It shall be unlawful for any person participating in a parade, race, or public assembly to utilize sound amplification equipment at decibel levels that exceed those limits imposed by federal, state or city law, regulation, or ordinance without a variance granted by the council pursuant to Legislative Code chapter 293; and

 

(gj)                      It shall be unlawful for any person to ride, drive, or cause to be ridden or driven, any animal or any animal-drawn vehicle upon any public street, unless specifically authorized by the permit.

 

SECTION 5

 

This Ordinance shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days following its passage, approval, and publication.

 

Date NameDistrictOpinionCommentAction
3/10/2021 2:37 AMIan Hedberg Against I must express my vehement opposition to this ordinance. Peaceful protesting is guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. constitution *explicitly*. Allowing civilians to voice dissastisfaction is essential to allow the state to change course before tensions erupt into full violence. I would be appalled to see Saint Paul adopt the same kind of repressive measures some foreign states use to suppress dissent, such as limiting gatherings to 5 or fewer people without state approval. Furthermore, this seems to be an attempt to suppress violent clashes between white supremacists and anti-fascists. Such clashes are the result of deep conflict originating in white colonization of North America and the institution of slavery. The violence cannot be eliminated simply by outlawing protest. Street violence is already illegal! We should not go down the path of heavy police repression of public dissent, nor give police broad discretion to arrest protestors based on sign stick size etc. +4 -4 3
3/2/2021 7:50 PMYvonne Cournoyer Against I am vehemently opposed to this effort to severely restrict and limit our Constitutional right to free speech and ***embly. There are already laws and ordinances prohibiting violence. Peaceful protests are an important way for citizens to lift up issues and raise concerns with governmental leaders. Requiring permits to ***emble is an unnecessarily harsh and extreme method for controlling protesters. And when not backed up with any call for restraint from the police, who through their aggressive responses to peaceful protests often provoke and escalate violence, this Ordinance will not prevent violence at protests and demonstrations. History shows that ordinances like this are unfairly enforced on Black and Brown people. With the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin, St. Paul has an opportunity to demonstrate that we value engaged citizens and our right to peacefully ***emble and protest. Vote NO on Ordinance 21-6. +3 -3 3
3/2/2021 7:16 PMJames Wilkinson   Error in previous comment corrected here: Minnesota law allows police officers to ask for, review and conduct signature verification for people carrying guns in the city who have permits and take action against those who do not have valid permits. +3 -3 3
3/2/2021 7:13 PMJames Wilkinson Against The proposal does not even address the possession of illegal or unlicensed guns at events here!!! Minnesota law limits St Paul's response to the increased intimidation by carrying of guns at demonstrations, parades, etc.- an almost 100% radical white nationalist phenomenon seen here. However, the City is NOT without any tools to address this. Minnesota law allows police officers to ask for, review and conduct signature verification for people carrying guns in the city. It criminalizes carrying permitted guns when under the influence of alcohol or drugs and authorizes police to address such cir***stances by using familiar screening tests. I have sent suggested language that addresses this issue by adding such weapons to the banned list and prioritizing gun checks to council members, but it does not appear that there is any real interest by sponsors in addressing the most dangerous weapons we are sure to see at times of unrest. I hope to be proven wrong. +3 -3 3
3/1/2021 8:47 PMBetsy MV Against I think this proposal creates creates excessive limitations on community members who wish to exercise their rights to free speech and public ***embly. The expectation of permits limits the ability of people to gather spontaneously based on what is happening at the moment. The city can't possibly get a permit approved within a short period of time. With the permit costing money, this also puts up a barrier for low wealth residents and BIPOC individuals. This is an ordinance written in a way to severely limit and penalize people. Is it in the best interest of anyone to be citing or arresting people for having a sign that's too large? It should not be p***ed. +3 -2 2
3/1/2021 6:16 PMLucas Cragg Against As noted by other commenters, this appears to be absolutely ripe for abuse against legitimate protest and does nothing to prevent violence being perpetrated by law enforcement or by the blackshirt wannabes. Drop this. +2 -2 2
2/27/2021 12:57 PMMike Reynolds Against As James Wilkinson notes, the proposed revisions add a slate of specific prohibitions that seem to enable inequitable enforcement of the basic underlying ordinance about public safety. The revisions constrain public ***embly in ways that could, for instance, allow harsher measures against Black Lives Matter protests while providing no greater regulation of the Proud Boys marching with semi-automatics. I would urge the Council to vote no on the revisions as proposed. +9 -2 2
2/25/2021 8:55 PMJames Wilkinson Against This is worse than the first version as it seems to remove the "warn first" provision. The new language on allowing some sticks for signs does not make sense when I read the sentence. Is the real danger to St. Paul is from BLM and anti-right demonstrators with 2x4s , containers of milk, etc. or from proud boys with guns and kevlar vests? Create more crimes on our books and you will see that these are used against oppressed communities. +10 -2 2