Is it time for a Brea law on public assembly? – Orange County Register

At the Dec. 19 Brea City Council meeting, a standing room-only crowd attended to express concerns about a proposed city ordinance to put binders on folks expressing their freedom of speech and assembly, mainly outside of Congressman Ed Royce’s Downtown Brea office.

Not only were the council chambers packed, but about 200 people gathered on the City Hall plaza prior to the council meeting for a peaceful demonstration, according to Harry Lagenbacher of Indivisibleca39, a group that regularly holds protests below Royce’s Brea office.

Indivisibleca39 members are from the 15 cities in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties that make up the 39th District.

As initially proposed, the Public Assembly Ordinance would require a paid permit four days prior to an event for a group of 30 or more planning a demonstration in Brea Downtown, or if 75 or more people are expected elsewhere in Brea. But if the applicant is indigent there would be no charge.

According the proposed ordinance, if there is a “breaking news” event, groups could gather at the City Hall plaza without a permit.

The ordinance has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. Brea’s city attorneys James Markman and Terrance Boga stated at the council meeting the ordinance was drafted based on federal case law, but they planned to meet with ACLU representatives and discuss it.

On Jan. 3, they did meet with the ACLU attorney for about two hours, spending time by the orange fountain on Birch Street, Markman said via email. The meeting resulted in an alternative draft of the ordinance. he said, that responds to the points raised by the ACLU, including about requiring a permit for groups of 30 or more, limiting spontaneous demonstrations to the City Hall plaza and restricting sound amplification.

“No concession was made that the original draft was legally deficient,” said Markman.

Protesters in Brea Downtown are hardly new. Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher’s office was there from 2000 to 2006 when she was termed out. The office didn’t stay vacant for long. Assemblyman Michael Duvall’s offices were there from 2006 to 2009, and after that, Royce moved in.

There are peaceful protests outside Royce’s office on a regular basis, such as Indivisbleca39 members holding their signs by the orange fountain below his office, as did others when Daucher and Duval were in office.

Brea Police Chief Jack Conklin said the department has received a few minor noise complaints, but added…

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