SANTA MONICA—An emergency ordinance passed on Saturday, July 23, banning potentially dangerous items from protests after reports of individuals at certain demonstrations were said to have been armed with items like knives and tactical gear. 

SMPD Lieutenant Sal Lucio told Santa Monica Daily Press that, “In general, over the last few years, we’ve all seen a significant increase in protest activities locally and regionally. Some of these protests have erupted in violence against police and the community and that directly affected local residents, at times spilling into neighborhoods, as well as impacting businesses. Over time, we’ve seen an increase in counter-protesters and what that means is … when there’s a group that’s organized themselves to protest with a desire to be heard on a particular issue, they’re now being countered by other groups, and as a result, this is causing the imminent threat of violence to occur in these environments and spaces.”

There was one incident where a protest, that began peacefully, ended up violent. About 400 people were arrested and multiple Santa Monica businesses were destroyed. Curfews were issued shortly after these incidents transpired.

This current ban will prohibit sticks, poles, pipes, bats, pepper spray (or variants), projectile launchers whether manually operated or powered by springs/gas, chains, bladed weapons, martial arts weapons, BB guns, explosives, tasers, knuckle dusters, containers of noxious liquid, any glass or metal containers, any open flame, shields, bricks, gas masks, protective helmets, laser pointers, umbrellas absent rain, tactical clothing designed to carry weapons and combat clothing such as bullet-proof vests.

The ordinance notes the need to promote the safety and welfare of those who engage in First Amendment activities as well as the safety and welfare of residents, businesses, and visitors who encounter and are affected by such events.  The re-adoption of the emergency ordinance will continue to support the City’s efforts to best provide for the safety of everyone in Santa Monica.

The Santa Monica City Council directed that the emergency ordinance sunset on June 30, 2023, to allow for input from the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission (PSROC) before consideration of language for a permanent ordinance.

In the past month both pro-choice and anti-abortion activists have brought items to their demonstrations that would be covered under the re-imposed ban.