OAKLAND -- Council members never made it to a vote Tuesday on a proposal to ban Occupy Oakland's weapons of choice from protests, instead cutting the meeting short when Occupiers repeatedly disrupted a critic.
The ordinance, proposed by City Attorney Barbara Parker, would allow police to arrest people for carrying numerous items at protests, including shields, clubs, hammers, paint projectiles and fire accelerants. Occupy agitators have used those items at protests during scuffles with police or to vandalize or destroy property.
Occupy members said the law would infringe upon their rights and leave them defenseless in the face of police violence. While members of the group have disrupted previous City Council meetings, Occupiers were especially hostile during Tuesday's Public Safety Committee meeting.
Several members cursed at Councilmember Pat Kernighan, the committee chairwoman and sponsor of the proposed ordinance. Others hinted at violence if the measure ultimately is approved.
"I want to tell you, Pat Kernighan, that I could walk up to you and kill you with a (expletive) pencil. Are you going to outlaw pencils?" asked an Occupy member who goes only by the name Stephanie.
Occupy Oakland videographer and member Jessica Hollie warned near the end of an expletive-laden speech, "If you take away our shield, the only thing left is our Second Amendment right."
The four-member committee needed three votes to bring the law
"The most hurtful, violent behavior against people has been done by police," Nadel said.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan also had concerns about whether the ordinance could be applied too broadly, her spokesman Jason Overman said Wednesday.
Kernighan could bring the proposal back to the committee, or take it directly to the full council with the support of a second council member.
The ordinance was intended to help police quickly remove agitators from Occupy rallies before they get violent. Rather than having to catch Occupy agitators in the act of damaging property or using the makeshift weapons, police would be able to arrest protesters they see carrying the prohibited items, authorities said.
But Occupy supporters warned that the law was written so broadly that even cameras and tripods could be considered weapons. They also noted several instances where police fired less-than-lethal ammunition on unarmed protesters.
About 40 Occupy members spoke for more than 90 minutes during the meeting, occasionally cursing and breaking in chants, such as, "Whose shields, our shields."
Councilmember Larry Reid left the meeting during the public comment.
It appeared the remaining three committee members were set to discuss the proposal, until the final speaker, Vincent Sauve, of Oakland, began speaking out against Occupy Oakland.
"It's not fair to the public to have this type of unruly behavior, which really borders on terrorism actually," he said.
As Occupy members shouted and laughed at him, Kernighan gave them a piece of her mind.
"People, shut the hell up, OK?" she said. "We listened to you. Let the guy speak."
When Occupiers continued disrupting Sauve, Kernighan ended the meeting. Two men then came up to Sauve; one told him, "Get your (expletive) out of here. You can't talk."
Several police officers entered the council chamber, which emptied peacefully.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.