Some of you may remember the incident that took place on Hollywood Boulevard, on Saturday, November 20, 2010.
Basically, this is what happened. I was on Hollywood Boulevard, in the area of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, open-air preaching and carrying my cross. I was approached by two LAPD officers and told I could not carry a wooden cross on the boulevard. Within minutes, another ten officers and a sergeant arrived. I was told that carrying my cross was a violation of a city ordinance that regulated the size of picket signs. I was also told my cross was a potential weapon. Interestingly, none of the thirteen uniformed officers felt threatened enough by my “potential weapon” to ask me to put it down.
I complied with the officers’ order to leave the boulevard. The following Monday I contacted my friends at the Alliance Defense Fund. They investigated the matter. They agreed that the officers wrongly applied an ordinance written to protect protesters and officers at work actions, strikes, and large scale protests. And they drafted and sent a Demand Letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Today, I received the city’s response.
The letter, signed by Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, reads:
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office is in receipt of your letter, dated March 14, 2011, written on behalf of Mr. Anthony Miano, wherein you described Mr. Miano’s desire to express his religious beliefs on the public sidewalks by utilizing a large wooden cross. Specifically, your letter explains that in November 2010, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department advised Mr. Miano that he could not carry the cross, as built, upon the public sidewalk as it constituted a violation of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 55.07.
We have reviewed Section 55.07 and do not believe that single individual displaying such an item in the manner and location you have described would trigger a violation of this Municipal Code Section.
We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention, and have taken steps to ensure that this Municipal Code section is being enforced in a manner consistent with its purpose.
Carmen A. Trutanich, City Attorney
First I want to thank Mr. John Scruggs and the rest of the Alliance Defense Fund team for their help in this matter. I would also like to thank those who prayed for me regarding this situation. Lastly, I would like to thank Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and the members of his office coming down on the side of free speech, in this case.
Now, we can pray that the LAPD officers who work in the Hollywood area will abide by the City Attorney Office’s decision.
I’m looking forward to taking the cross back to Hollywood Boulevard, soon.