Actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner are urging California lawmakers to support legislation that would impose tougher penalties on paparazzi who harass celebrities and their children.
The stars testified Tuesday before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on SB606. The bill would change the definition of harassment to include photographing a child without the permission of a legal guardian.
Garner choked up describing how paparazzi aggressively follow her and her three children daily.
"Paparazzi swarm, large aggressive men swarm us causing a mob scene yelling jockeying for position crowding around the kids while running over other parents and children unfortunate enough to be nearby, including one poor three year old who was knocked to the ground by one of our paparazzi cameras outside my kids preschool," she said. "My 17 month old baby is terrified and cries and my 4 year-old say why do they never smile and never go away they are always with us."
It was Berry's second state Capitol appearance on the measure. Berry, who is pregnant, told lawmakers the constant presence of photographers has made her daughter scared to go to school.
"I fear and I feel in fear for my child who is in strapped into my car," she said. "I'm doing my part as a parent but at any moment I feel like a crash could happen and end her life my life and other innocent passengers driving in their vehicles. When I was pregnant with my daughter they forced me to crash my car, they forced me to fall down a flight of steps when I was trying to have a shopping day for my expected baby."
Garner said the paps also provide would-be stalkers cover.
"There are violent mentally ill stalkers who can now get close to my kids by simply following mobs of photographers and blending in. Like the very man who threatened to cut the babies out of my belly, who was arrested waiting behind our daughter's preschool standing among the throng of paparazzi," she said. "That man is still in prison but I have doubt there are others still out there like him and I don't want to make it any easier for them to find and reach my children."
Media organizations are concerned the bill from Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles will interfere with news gathering. SB606 passed and heads to the Appropriations Committee.