St. Paul leaders want to keep protests peaceful and weapon-free.

The City Council will consider banning people gathered at public assemblies from carrying a variety of items that can be used as weapons, including bricks, glass bottles and pointed wooden staffs that can be camouflaged as flagpoles.

It would also forbid the carrying of obvious combat gear including swords, shields, stun guns and bear spray, and in a nod to new tactics used by protesters, laser pointers as well.

It makes no reference to firearms.

The proposed rules would apply to people gathering for "parades, races and public assemblies."

"The goal is to ensure public safety at assemblies and gatherings," said Council President Amy Brendmoen, who is sponsoring the ordinance.

Brendmoen noted the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as "the most recent and clear example of an out-of-control mob."

Brendmoen said the city has already received feedback on the proposed ordinance, and the police department and city attorney will make adjustments before a public hearing and final vote later this year.

The ordinance cites protests in Charlottesville, Va., St. Louis, Berkeley, Calif., Minneapolis and St. Paul that "have erupted in violence between demonstrators and counterdemonstrators, including massive destruction of property, and violence against law enforcement personnel."

The proposed ordinance would also define an assembly as five or more people gathering for a common purpose as a result of prior planning on a street, sidewalk or other place open to the general public.

Existing city code defines assemblies as more than 25.

Authorized peace officers and city employees or representatives engaging in official city business are exempt. People with disabilities using canes, walkers and mobility devices are also exempt.

Shannon Prather • 651-925-5037