The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday is expected to consider requesting an ordinance to ban strobe lights from protests and demonstrations.
Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced the motion — which was seconded by Councilman Joe Buscaino — on July 28, calling strobe lights capable of disorienting or temporarily blinding police officers and protesters.
Rodriguez said that while the vast majority of protests in Los Angeles are peaceful, “there have been incidents of violence between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, as well as acts of violence targeting police officers.”
“The use of strobe lights can be extremely harmful as the lights can disorient and/or temporarily blind both police officers and protesters,” according to the motion, which also states that people used strobe lights against officers during demonstrations in Echo Park and Hollywood.
“Additionally, intermittent light patterns created by strobe lights may cause seizures in persons that are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy, impacting police officers and demonstrators alike,” the motion says.
Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 55.07 currently prohibits people at protests from possessing laser pointers, baseball bats, pipes, weapons and aerosol sprays. Rodriguez’s motion, if approved by the City Council, would direct the city attorney to draft an amendment to the ordinance to add strobe lights and stroboscopic lamps of any light source, color, frequency, intensity or lumens.
The motion passed the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Aug. 4, with only Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson voting no. He said the definition of lights that would be prohibited according to the motion was too wide and includes flash lights that people carry for safety.
“My flashlight that my wife has in a drawer next to her bed has a strobe button on it, and it’s just a regular flashlight. I know lots of my constituents that use public transportation keep these in their purse … and so if they’re going from work to a protest, we need to make sure that we’ve structured any policy in a way that protects folks that are not out to hurt officers or protesters or anybody else,” Harris-Dawson said.
Rodriguez responded to Harris-Dawson by saying that the motion would get the conversation started, and details of what types of lights would be included in the ban would be hashed out while the ordinance is drafted.