Actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner testified in Sacramento on Tuesday in support of a bill aimed at protecting the children of celebrities and public officials from paparazzi.
Senate Bill 606, proposed by Sen. Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles), would change the legal definition of harassment to include any conduct that "alarms, annoys torments or terrorizes" a child while photographing or recording that child without express parental consent.
The legislation specifically mentions photography that involves "following the child's activities or lying in wait" and targeting a child because of a parent's line of work.
The actresses said they appeared before the legislative committee as mothers concerned for the safety of their children, who aren't celebrities. Garner said she made the decision to have a public life when she chose her career, but her children are private citizens, just like anyone else's.
"I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, law-breaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are, all day, every day, to continue to traumatize my kids," she said, according to the Associated Press.
Berry, who is pregnant, said she was trying to “protect her children and protect their rights,” and that the constant presence of photographers yelling and snapping pictures has made her young daughter afraid to go to school. It was her second appearance in Sacramento this summer to testify in support of the bill.
"They are allowed to be so close to her that they can shout obscenities to me and ask her questions that are inappropriate for a 5-year-old to have to answer," Berry said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In April, she and her fiancé, Olivier Martinez, got into a spat with paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport after they swarmed the couple and Berry’s daughter Nahla. The actress shouted and cursed at photographers and shielded her face as Martinez carried the young girl.
The bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee without opposition and now heads to the Appropriations Committee.
Newspaper publishers are among those opposing the bill, raising concerns that it would infringe on journalists’ ability to do their jobs.
[For the Record, 2:48 p.m. PDT Aug. 14: A previous version of this post incompletely stated that Senate Bill 606 would expand the definition of harassment to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian.]
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