ACLU Statement on Committee’s Vote to Repeal San Diego’s ‘Seditious Language’ Ordinance

Ed Sifuentes, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, 619-501-3408,

SAN DIEGO – Today, the City of San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee voted to repeal the city’s “seditious language” ordinance. The repeal will now be considered by the full City Council.

The following is a statement from Jonathan Markovitz, staff attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial County (ACLU-SDIC), on today’s committee vote:

“The ACLU-SDIC is encouraged by the City of San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee vote to repeal the city’s ‘seditious language’ ordinance. Not only is the ordinance blatantly unconstitutional, the enforcement of the ordinance disproportionately punished Black San Diegans for exercising their First Amendment rights. According to a story published by the Voice of San Diego, 30 percent of the tickets issued since July 2013 were issued to Black San Diegans, who only make up 6.5 percent of our city’s population.

“This disparity in enforcement underscores the city’s well-documented history of biased policing. The ACLU-SDIC is a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability Transparency (CPAT), which has been calling on the city to take other steps towards decriminalizing low-level offenses whose enforcement does not meaningfully improve public safety. We need to decriminalize behaviors that do not harm others and invest more city resources in non-law enforcement responses to reduce the role of police in Black and Latino communities.

“The ACLU-SDIC urges the City Council to repeal the ‘seditious language’ ordinance. We also echo the call made during today’s meeting by Councilmembers Monica Montgomery Steppe and Vivian Moreno and community members to expunge the records and provide restitution to people who have been cited under this ordinance. No one should continue to suffer because they were punished for exercising their First Amendment rights and charged under an unconstitutional law.”