San Diego County Officials Ban Weapons at Border Wall Protests

FILE- In this May 1, 2016, file picture, Eva Lara, second from left, reacts as she reaches for her grandmother Juana Lara through the border wall during a brief visitation near where Mexico and the United States meet at the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. The federal government said Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, that contractors began building eight prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, hitting a milestone toward a key campaign pledge. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

SAN DIEGO (CN) – San Diego County supervisors voted Tuesday to ban weapons such as knives, stun guns and pepper spray in anticipation of protests near the border wall prototype project, which broke ground Tuesday steps away from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The supervisors unanimously approved an urgency ordinance prohibiting “items known to be used as weapons” in the unincorporated area of Otay Mesa, where construction on the eight border wall prototypes began.

Completion of the border wall prototype project is expected within 30 days, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In addition to the weapons ban, the ordinance establishes a so-called “free speech zone” near the border wall construction site where people will be permitted to protest. The measure allows for perimeters or “separations” during protests.

Weapons or items that can be used as weapons included in the ban are: knives and daggers; shields; poles, sticks, dowels and baseball bats; pepper spray; axes and axe handles; Tasers; torches; clubs; bricks and rocks; and firearms.

The county ordinance went into effect immediately Tuesday.

Signs indicating the areas where a temporary weapons ban has been ordered will be publicly posted online and at the physical location. Those who fail to comply with the weapons ban can be criminally charged, according to county officials.

The weapons ban was mirrored after the one adopted by Berkeley’s City Council following protests at the University of California’s Berkeley campus over its controversial decision to host an event with conservative author Milo Yiannopoulos.

Berkeley also allowed officers to use pepper spray on violent protesters in light of violent conflicts that transpired over the summer. No such proposal has been made in San Diego.

Violent protests in cities such as Berkeley and Charlottesville, Va., were cited by county supervisors as examples of clashes they don’t want repeated in San Diego over a border wall construction project they believe is unnecessary.

“This is a divisive time in our nation’s history. Frankly, we already have a border fence in San Diego so I’m not sure why we were targeted to do a prototype wall. I think Texas would have been more appropriate,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said at Tuesday’s meeting.

“This is very important. We are putting a plan in place to keep people safe and keep the peace,” she added.

Supervisor Greg Cox, who joined the meeting via teleconference while out of town in Washington D.C., also said he doesn’t support expanding the current border fence and called the prototypes a “demonstration project.”

San Diego’s City Council voted last week to formally oppose construction of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and will later consider “disclosing” or exposing companies involved in the construction process, rather than divesting city contracts from those companies.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed over environmental waivers issued by the Department of Homeland Security allowing builders to circumvent environmental laws to speed up construction of the prototypes, including a complaint filed in San Diego federal court last week by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported no parking signs had been put up Monday by the San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on roads near the border wall prototype area in the Otay Mesa part of San Diego, 20 miles southeast of downtown.

The no-parking zones ban parking in the area starting from Tuesday until November.

The border wall prototypes will be 18 to 30 feet high, with four of the prototypes made of concrete and the other four made of “alternate materials,” according to Customs and Border Protection.

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