Monday, January 7, 2013

New California law represents ‘small step’ in fighting fan violence

San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten at Dodgers Stadium, was transferred in May 2011 from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center to San Francisco General Hospital.
Credits:   Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images


A state law aimed at curbing fan violence at professional sports venues in California took effect New Year’s Day.

The law (Assembly Bill 2464), authored by state Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles Democrat, requires major-league sports stadiums in California to clearly post the numbers that fans can use to call or send text messages to report violence to stadium security personnel. The law came in response to outbursts of fan violence around the state, including the brutal beating in March 2011 of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodgers Stadium, and the shooting of two fans and the beating of another fan in August 2011 at a San Francisco 49ers-Oakland Raiders preseason game at Candlestick Park.
The Improving Personal Safety at Stadiums Act was signed into law in September by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“It has become apparent that we need to act to keep the action at professional games on the field and out of the stands,” Gatto said earlier this year.

“Many parents have told me that they are afraid to take their kids to a ballgame,” he added. “This law will allow fans to report incidents to stadium security before they escalate out of control.”

Gatto pointed out that in several high-profile beatings at major-league sports venues in California, fans dialed 911. In those cases, contacting stadium security makes more sense, according to Gatto, as stadium security officers already are at the venues while police officers could be coming from outside the venues.

Longtime Oakland Raiders fan Kathy Samoun, founder of a Bay Area-based group called Fans Against Violence, said most pro sports venues in California already had violence-reporting systems in place – especially texting mechanisms – but a few did not. Samoun said those that did not were the venues for the San Jose Earthquakes (soccer), the Los Angeles Angels (baseball) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (soccer).
“One of the goals with our organization is to encourage fans to take responsibility in their own safety along with the teams and the leagues,” Samoun said. “Currently, these security text codes are the number one tool fans have for being proactive. … Many fans are not aware they have this tool available to them.”

California venues covered by the law are those with teams from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football League and Major League Soccer.

Samoun said Gatto’s law represents a “small step” toward ending fan violence at sports venues. A previous version of the measure would have created a list of fans who’d be banned from pro sports stadiums in California if they’re convicted of committing a serious or violent felony crime at a major-league sports venue. The previous version also would have established a state fund to compensate victims of violence at pro sports stadiums.

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You can read this story and more at the SF Examiner by clicking HERE

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly.  He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.  


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