California’s Senate Bill 742 seeks to prevent protesting at COVID-19 vaccination sites.
The legislation proposes six-month jail time and/or a maximum fine of $1,000 for demonstrating in front of any vaccine clinic. SB 742 suggests it is unlawful for a protestor to “knowingly approach a person at a vaccination site, as specified, for the purpose of obstructing, injuring, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with, as defined, that person in connection with any vaccination services.”
Lawmakers introduced the bill after a COVID-19 vaccination site in Los Angeles was briefly closed due to demonstrations. The peaceful protestors blocked the entrance of the site holding signs that read things like, “Save Your Soul, Turn Back Now.” However, the bill is far-reaching in its definition of harassment, including sharing informative pamphlets, holding a sign, and chanting.
Director at the California nonprofit, First Amendment Coalition, Glen Smith said, “To say you can’t get within 30 feet of them just to hand them a pamphlet or ask them a question? That seems to be overkill for me.” The constitutionality of the bill will be tested in the California state assembly in the coming weeks.