Police announced today that effective immediately, the Los Angeles municipal code has been amended to prohibit laser pointers and other laser devices at public demonstrations, rallies, protests, picket lines and public assemblies.
The Los Angeles Police Department had requested that the City Council make the changes to the law that bans certain items at highly populated events after the department reported multiple officers have been injured by laser devices during protests.
On Tuesday, police announced that the council and Mayor Eric Garcetti added the amendment to 55.07 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to prohibit “laser pointers or laser-style device emitting any color beam, milliwatt output level, intensity class level or any visibility level, including infrared or non-visible” from specified events.
The amendment adds laser pointers to a list of items already prohibited at public demonstrations, picket lines and other lawful assemblies, which includes large metal or wooden poles, baseball bats, slingshots, guns, glass bottles, bricks, pepper spray or mace and other items of combat.
“The LAPD works exceptionally hard to protect and facilitate the First Amendment rights of all to peacefully protest and assemble,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher told the council’s Public Safety Committee on Oct. 27.
“However, we have experienced numerous instances of individuals among these groups intentionally using laser devices and pointers to attempt to blind and cause harm to officers by pointing them purposely at their eyes.”
Some people who spoke during the meeting said it was ironic that the LAPD was asking for a laser-pointer ban at protests, as officers have been photographed using bean bag projectiles that have allegedly caused gruesome injuries to some protesters, such as lost eyeballs and teeth.
Other people said police officers need protection during these tense situations and banning laser pointers would help.
“Laser-type devices have no legitimate use outside of the business or educational venues,” Pitcher said.
LAPD Lt. Christopher Zine said Los Angeles has had 20 incidents of laser pointers being used to blind or distract people this year, and not just police officers.
Of 24 total victims, 20 were police officers, some of whom were driving patrol vehicles when lasers were pointed at them, Zine said.