Newport Beach bans picketing near homes

Warehouse Strike

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

Inland warehouse workers picketed a Wal-Mart distribution center in Eastvale on Wednesday over alleged workplace abuses. Under a new rule, the city of Newport Beach is okay with protests held in public places, but picketing won't be allowed in front of a person's home. The city joins three other Orange County cities with similar bans.

Newport Beach has become the latest city to ban picketing in neighborhoods. The city council decided Tuesday to keep protesters at least 300 feet away from a house, prompted in part by a protest in June outside the home of a doctor who supports abortion rights.

Resident Jim Moser spoke against the ban, maintaining it violates free speech rights and just isn't necessary.

"For those activities would be objectionable only if they were disruptive, or noisy, or harassing, or at an odd hour of the night. And if they were, I assume the police already have a full briefcase of laws that would deal with that," Moser said.

Resident George Schroeder appreciates the ban. He says picketing in front of a home doesn't target only the person who lives there — it affects neighbors, as well.

"I think the person's right to protest is not as important as a typical resident in the city of Newport Beach to know that when they come home at night, they can drive down their street, get to their home, watch TV with their window open and not have 20 or 30 people across the street," Schroeder said.

Council members said they were concerned about the impact of protests on neighborhoods and that there are other ways to engage in free speech. San Clemente, Tustin, and Huntington Beach already have similar bans.

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