District Attorney George Gascon testified Thursday that he has effectively become a prisoner in his own home as a result of protesters repeatedly demonstrating outside his house.
Gascon testified at a hearing for a restraining order Gascon sought against Victor Picazo, who organizes many of the protests. Gascon said the protesters have made his wife nervous and that she jumps to look at the security cameras they had installed on the property whenever she hears a noise outside.
“I will not leave her alone for extended periods of time,” he said. “If I’m traveling overnight, I try to take my wife with me.”
Judge Charles Haines ordered Picazo to stay 100 yards away from Gascon, his wife, his home and vehicle.
Because Gascon is a public figure who works at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St., the order does not include Gascon’s place of work. The stay-away order also drops to 10 yards when Gascon appears at a public event.
“I promised you I would be respectful of your client’s First Amendment rights,” Haines said, which includes the right of free speech, freedom to assemble and the right to petition the government.
The restraining order will remain in effect for three years. Gascon’s term as District Attorney expires this year, and he announced in October he would not run for re-election.
Picazo and other demonstrators from the activist group Mothers on the March have been holding protests outside the Hall of Justice every Friday from noon to 2 p.m. continuously for more than two years, “to expose Gascon and the corruption in his department,” Picazo said at the hearing.
The protests at Gascon’s house have consisted of a dozen or so people using bullhorns, shouting, holding signs, throwing watermelon, and writing messages such as “#JailKillerCops” in chalk on Gascon’s house.
In one incident captured on video on June 17, protesters blocked Gascon’s SUV as he and his wife tried to leave his garage. Picazo said Gascon’s vehicle hit him in the knee, which Gascon denied.
Block party at Da Gascon’s.. Gascon leaves his garage & as we hold space he basically ran over Victor Picazo in his SUV.. In front of children.. This coward needs to go.!!! pic.twitter.com/VmLVc1F1Ce
— Equipto (@EQUIPTO) June 17, 2018
Gascon said he has spent approximately $5,000 installing a wrought iron fence and upgrading the security cameras around his home since the protests began.
Shouts broke out in the courtroom from Picazo’s supporters after the judge announced his decision and left the room. Gascon was escorted away by a police officer.
“I wasn’t wishing on no moons and stars with this judge,” Picazo said outside the courtroom. “I was expecting maybe exactly what he just ruled.”
“I’m happy, sort of, that I can still go to public appearances — just stay 10 yards away from him,” Picazo said. “He can be on the stage and I can be in the audience. My voice can travel more than 10 yards,” he added with a laugh.
Gascon testified that Picazo appeared to be one of the most vocal leaders of the group and that if the restraining order was issued it would change the behavior of the others. But Picazo’s supporters vowed they would continue protesting at Gascon’s house even without him.
“You quiet one brother down, (it does) very little. There are two of us. We don’t quiet easily,” said Rafael Picazo, Victor Picazo’s brother.
Cristina Gutierrez, an organizer with Mothers on the March, said the next protest at Gascon’s house is scheduled for Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.