Riverside County ordinance curtailing Scientology protests suspended

Riverside County ordinance curtailing Scientology protests suspended

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today temporarily suspended an ordinance it passed last week to limit protests outside a large Church of Scientology compound near Hemet.

Protesters show up about once a month outside Golden Era Productions, home to 500 Scientologists, on Gilman Springs Road. In an incident last week, protesters were swarmed by sheriff’s deputies trying to enforce the ordinance. After a vigorous debate among supervisors, the ordinance was suspended today.

The measure, which was requested by the church to keep demonstrators away from private homes and was rushed through last week as “urgent,” is supposed to keep protesters 50 feet from the property line of any residence. Supervisors believed it still would allow protests outside the compound’s front gate.

But a group protesting at the front gate last week was met by carloads of deputies demanding identification. Officers also asked two of the men whether they were HIV-positive, protesters said.

In today’s debate, Supervisor Bob Buster questioned whether the ordinance was needed.

“This seems to be much more complicated than it need be,” Buster said. “Why is it even needed?”

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