SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Lawmakers listened and asked questions but offered no concrete solutions Tuesday in the first of several California legislative hearings planned to discuss how to balance free speech rights with public safety.
The hearings arose after a violent clash between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrats, called for senators to look into potential legislation.
The struggle to facilitate controversial speech protected by the First Amendment while preventing violence is especially acute in California, where the San Francisco Bay Area has become an epicenter for clashes between conservative speakers who support President Donald Trump and left-wing "anti-fascist" demonstrators. The University of California, Berkeley has faced steep bills for law enforcement and security to keep the peace when conservative writers and provocateurs have attempted to speak on campus this year.
Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said his agency, no stranger to protests, has had to adapt this year as anti-fascist demonstrators look to clash violently with supporters of conservative speakers on and near the University of California, Berkeley campus.
"A new thing for us really was how to police when you have two groups who are coming together potentially to fight, potentially armed with protective gear, padding, shields, weapons," Greenwood said.
In Sacramento, four people were charged in connection with a melee on the grounds of the State Capitol when more than 300 counter-protesters confronted about 30 members of the Traditionalist Workers Party in 2016.
Organizations representing minorities and marginalized groups told senators that hate crimes are increasing against African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, LGBT people and others, and many go unreported.
Conservative writer Ben Shapiro warned lawmakers at Tuesday's hearing against trying to regulate hate speech, saying they must prevent violent demonstrators from having a "heckler's veto" to shut down speech that others don't want to hear.
"There's speech you don't like, there's speech I don't like," Shapiro told lawmakers "But if we can't agree that there's a difference between speech and violence, we're not going to be able to have a free state let alone a free country."
Shapiro blamed anti-fascist protesters for creating $600,000 in security costs when he spoke at an event organized by campus Republicans last month at UC Berkeley.
The body of a man was found near a burned Ramona home Sunday after a resident of the home was unaccounted for after flames fully engulfed the structure on Saturday, authorities said. Deputies couldn't immediately say if the man who was found was the unaccounted-for resident.
The latest storm to hit San Diego is making for a beautiful scene in our local mountains with plenty of fresh snow that brought out lots of visitors this weekend.
Professional football is back in San Diego for the first time in more than two years. The San Diego Fleet's first ever home game against the Atlanta Legends got underway Sunday evening at SDCCU stadium.
The San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame will induct five local women for their life's achievements next month, the organization announced Sunday.
San Diego police on Saturday released the names of the SWAT officers involved in a shooting and a standoff in Paradise Hills early on Valentine's Day.
Following a series of low pressures, a stronger, colder system on Sunday will bring a chance of snow to San Diego mountains.
The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest combat ship on Saturday, the USS Tulsa, which eventually will be docked in San Diego.
More than 150 current and former service members and their families gathered on the USS Midway on Saturday morning.
Dozens of people on Saturday fell victim to a brunch scam that was supposed to take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.