OCYD Statement on Proposed Protest Restrictions in Brea

Mahdi Abbas Manji spoke at the City Of Brea’s meeting on behalf of OCYD in opposition to ordinance 1210, which effectively bans protests in downtown Brea. Over 100 people showed up to protest and voice their concerns during public comment. The Brea City Council tabled the ordinance until January 16th.

Here is Mahdi’s complete statement:

Good evening, my name is Mahdi Abbas Manji and I am speaking as a concerned citizen and member of the Orange County Young Democrats regarding proposed ordinance No. 1201.

On Tuesday, December 5, the Brea City Council discussed Ordinance No. 1201 which, if adopted, would severely limit the freedom of assembly in the city of Brea and set a dangerous precedent for limiting free speech and the ability of constituents to hold their elected officials accountable.

We find it disappointing that Brea city council members would find the exercise of free speech and assembly an inconvenience and appalling that the city council is considering excessively restricting that right and requiring payment for its exercise.

Requiring a permit for a demonstration numbering 30 or more persons in Downtown Brea is burdensome and unreasonable. The number is arbitrary and there is no convincing reason why the threshold in the downtown area is lower than for the threshold for the rest of the city, which is 75 persons. At any time, there may be approximately 30 persons congregated in any area of the sidewalk in Downtown Brea and disturbing one’s dinner at a local restaurant, as mentioned during the December 5 meeting, is not a sufficient reason to curtail an American citizen’s First Amendment rights.

Additionally, requiring reimbursement for police and fire services that the city may incur without a fee waiver for groups that may not be able to afford such charges and have no alternative ways to publicly exercise their voice is simply unjust and discriminatory. Such a measure disproportionately impacts low-income communities and grassroots groups.

We are also deeply troubled by the apparent focus on Indivisible 39 demonstrations given the mentions of the group at the December 5 meeting. It should not matter how often they may choose to demonstrate – it is their right to exercise their free speech in a peaceful manner.

We are further concerned that the restrictions being discussed today in Downtown Brea also happen to apply in the area around Congressman Royce’s office—suggesting partisan politics is influencing a measure infringing upon citizens’ First Amendment Rights.

The Orange County Young Democrats stand with the residents of Brea opposing ordinance No. 1201. We urge the City of Brea to vote against this measure and preserve the freedom of Assembly and the rights of citizens to hold their elected officials accountable.