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CA City Can't Ban the American Flag, But They Did Just Ban Protesters Having Flagpoles

Banning the American flag at protests is probably a bad idea, not to mention of dubious constitutionality.
Ah, but there are ways around that, though: You can ban flagpoles.
Because flagpoles could potentially be weapons — even though they’ve never been used as such in a protest there — the Laguna Beach City Council has banned them from future protests.
Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella suggested an emergency order banning the implements of death, destruction and patriotism at a meeting of the council this week, according to The Orange County Register.
Her comments came after a May 2 coronavirus lockdown protest in the city which included flagrant instances of flag-carrying.
“When the police department and lifeguards responded, poles could have been used as weapons,” she said. “Some were very long, and in some cases, people held two.
“To ensure safety, I’ve recommended an emergency ordinance that now includes sidewalks, alleys, streets, and public buildings.”
Two flagpoles? That’s using way too much of their freedom. Even if they have malicious motives, these people would also have to figure out how to effectively use two flagpoles as weapons at once, which is the kind of martial artistry which would impress even Bruce Lee.
Wouldn’t calling the National Guard be more appropriate at this point?
Anyway, California’s gonna California, because the city council unanimously agreed to the request on Tuesday.
Wonderful. If you don’t carry the flag in your hand as opposed to on a pole, you could face a misdemeanor charge.
Considering how dangerous those poles are, though, how are the police going to get close enough to make an arrest?
Laguna Beach’s protests on May 2 came after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a “hard close” of Orange County’s beaches, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Laguna Beach had made plans to reopen on a phased basis, with active use on weekdays between 6 and 10 a.m. That plan had what the L.A. Times called “overwhelming support” within the community, but was shot down by the governor.
“I think it’s unfortunate because whether I agree or not with what the governor said, I think he has the legal right to do that, and I think the courts have determined that,” Laguna Beach Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow said in response to the protests.
“He created a path for us to go forward. He said to submit a plan, so we submitted a plan, and we’re waiting to see how the governor will react. I’m hopeful and optimistic that our plan will meet with his approval, and we’ll be able to open the beaches.”
The article was notable for who was protesting in the header picture the L.A. Times provided. In the photo were several people holding flags aloft — most of them American flags, but also an Israeli flag and a Trump 2020 flag, too.
That’s not an uncommon trope involving protesters, either.
This is probably because the lockdown protests tend to draw more patriotic types than your average protest, I suppose, but the treatment is almost always the same. The flag gets sneered at by the readership, who see it as shorthand for the kind of people they’ve already been self-isolating from.
The rest of America — dare I say the silent majority? — actually respect the flag and those who are willing to fly it. They’re not irked or triggered by displays of patriotism.
They’re also not necessarily as happy as the the readership of the L.A. Times that California is in a state of continued lockdown.
There is something in the way of Laguna Beach’s laws that might explain why they would try to ban flagpoles, although not fully.
“Since 2017, it’s illegal in Laguna Beach to carry metal pipes, metal beverage containers, containers with bio-hazards, lumber, bricks, rocks, pepper spray or ice picks at a political assembly,” Fox News reported.
Generally speaking, though, none of those are directly involved in speech. You don’t bring a brick or an ice pick to a rally to make a point. The same thing can’t be said of a flag, and there’s generally one way it’s held aloft.
Banning flagpoles from demonstrations isn’t necessarily the same as banning the flag itself, but it’s not wholly different — and what makes it difficult is the lack of a reason for it.
The previous protest went off without anyone resorting to using Ol’ Glory as a jousting pole.
Was the local government under the impression that this was an agenda item which desperately needed to be addressed?
This was more about addressing patriotism than addressing safety.
There was no attempt to reach out to protesters and no attempt to come to some sort of compromise. Now, Laguna Beach is reaping the blowback from its decision.

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