By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Still, there is some good news: Valdez is batting .286 . . .
Speak Loud but Carry a Skinny Stick
Activists gearing up for the Democratic National Convention would do well to heed the lesson of Pamelyn Vlasak. On August 2 of last year, Vlasak, an animal-rights activist, got 30 days in jail for violating section 55.07A of the Los Angeles Municipal Code while protesting Circus Vargas’ treatment of animals. The ordinance forbids anyone “participating in any demonstration, rally, picket line or public assembly” from carrying “any length of lumber, wood, or wood lath unless that object is one-fourth inch or less in thickness and two inches or less in width.” If the stick is not “generally rectangular in shape,” its thickest point cannot exceed three-quarters of an inch. The ordinance is not often enforced, but it could be used selectively, which means that street protesters carrying puppets, and demonstrators with tall signs that need sturdier sticks for support, are vulnerable to law enforcement’s whims. One could even imagine that performers on stilts could be legally detained under the ordinance, and although such an interpretation would be creative, it isn’t unthinkable: Vlasak wasn’t carrying a sign at all, but a 31-inch-long, 1-and-a-half-inch-thick “bull hook” used by trainers to prod performing elephants.
Don White of Los Angeles CISPES, an organization concerned with corporate globalization in El Salvador, recommends adhering to the law whenever possible, and even suggests searching the hardware stores for “a picket-sign stick” specially made to conform with the ordinance. But three out of four local hardware stores surveyed — Anawalt, Rompage and B&B — had never heard of such a thing. Only George Garcia, a sales associate at that merchant of old-growth wood, Home Depot, came up with an alternative to the sliver-giving lathe sticks. Garcia suggests carrying your sign on molding, which comes cut 1-and-five-eighths-inch wide and one-quarter-inch thick with a smooth, easy-on-the-skin finish. Home Depot has promised to leave old-growth alone by 2002, but environmentalists could still be in an awful quandary: They could find themselves protesting the cutting of trees with a slice of the very wood they’re trying to save. —Judith Lewis
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