By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – An umbrella can be a dangerous thing. So much so that a state lawmaker filed an injunction seeking to deny the free speech of an activist, in part because of political slogans on an umbrella.
Anti-vaccination advocate Mike Mattingly, who whipped State Senator Jim Beall (D-Campbell) in that free speech/umbrella court contest last month, Thursday was officially charged for shouting at lawmakers at the State Capitol Sept. 9.
Mattingly, though, took it in stride, and said he welcomed another chance to win in court.
Mattingly, according to CHP and news reports, briefly disrupted the state senate, is now being charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest/failure to obey the instructions of a law enforcement officer. The CHP said he shouted during the senate session from the gallery.
Hundreds of people opposed to mandatory vaccines – including parents, and those with science degrees, protested the legislature’s votes to pass the strict vaccine bill Sept. 9.
Mattingly, and six others were arrested. Charges were not filed against the six other protestors – three blocked entry to the south side of the building, and three others barricaded the parking garage entrance to the Capitol.
No injuries or property damage were reported, and those arrested engaged in non-violent civil disobedience, said protest organizers, who charged lawmakers had “failed us” in passing legislation that imposes new, more stringent guidelines for parents wishing to exempt their children from vaccines.
Sacramento Sen. Richard Pan was the measures’ author said the legislation is needed to prevent “fraudulent” exemptions that would allow parents to skip vaccines for their children.
Mattingly said Thursday as he left court that he wasn’t surprised that he alone was charged for the September action, and that it was not a coincidence, maybe because he’s already had a “run-in” with the state senator – and won.
Beall actually sought a restraining order against Mattingly back in September, claiming that the activist was “aggressive” and insisted on talking with him about the vaccination issue, as well as water fluoridation, at public events.
Beall – in what may be a first for an elected official who usually welcome questions from constituents, or at least say they do – suggested that he feared the speech of Mattingly, who also, in addition to questions for the lawmaker, displayed anti-vaccination brochures and an umbrella with slogans on it.
The state lawmaker cited a river clean-up and senior event as two examples of where Mattingly, who participated in the public events, and also asked Beall and staff questions.
“As a result of these incidents in which Mattingly has committed unlawful violence (although no where in the pleadings is there an example of any stated violence), and because Mattingly has made several statements that he will continue to seek me out, I have suffered substantial emotional distress and I am extremely fearful for my safety,” said Beall in his court declaration.
Beall also cited an online video offered by Mattingly that purported to apologize for his actions. It stated, in part, “”I’d also like to apologize for getting up in the Senate chambers and calling you out for not meeting with us.”
Beall said he thought the video was sarcastic.
When he had court to respond to Beall’s request for a civil restraining order in October, Mattingly said he told the judge that “nothing qualified as harassment,” and went on to rebut “each lie and hyperbole that was presented as truth by Beall’s sworn testimony.”
Beall didn’t attend the hearing but sent Cara Jenkins of the Office of Legislative Counsel.
In court, Mattingly said he “showed the collusion between police and Beall (and) mentioned that he felt it was harassment that I participated in a river clean up that he was hosting…simply because I was there…they said I was in his space, but there was a table between us at the river cleanup, and when I talked to him the senate balcony, I couldn’t invade his person space (Beall was below on the senate floor.”
“This was weakest thing I had ever heard of…that a sitting Senator would file a restraining order against a constituent because he doesn’t like the constituent’s political speech,” Mattingly said.
In the end, Judge Philip Stanger denied Beall’s request for an injunction.
Repeated calls and emails for comment to the senator’s office by the Vanguard were not returned.
Mattingly’s next court date on the misdemeanor Capitol protest charge is in early January 2020.