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Hollywood moms Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry have had it with the paparazzi clamoring for shots of their children.
Appearing before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento on Tuesday, both actresses made their case for a bill designed to protect celebrities' kids from such harassment.
"We're moms here who are just trying to protect our children," Berry, who has a 5-year-old daughter and a baby boy on the way, told the legislators. "These are little innocent children who didn't ask to be celebrities. They didn't ask to be thrown into this game and they don't have the wherewithal to process what's happening. We don't have a law in place to protect them from this."
As part of her testimony, an emotional Garner detailed the psychological toll the constant presence of photographers has taken on her three children with husband Ben Affleck -- Violet, 7, Seraphina, 4, and Samuel, 1.
"Literally everyday there are as many as 15 cars of photographers waiting outside our home," she said. "In the course of our ordinary day -- trips to school, pediatrician, ballet, or the grocery store -- paparazzi swarm. Large aggressive men swarm us causing a mob scene, yelling, jockeying for a position, crowding around the kids. My 17-month-old baby is terrified and cries. My 4-year-old says, 'Why do these men never smile? Why do they never go away? Why are they always with us?'"
"What happens to the mind of a child when the only thing they see from the outside world is aggression, hostility, and pursuit?" she continued. "And what, God forbid, does this culture of stalking children create? What message does it send to say my children may be targeted and hounded by any means necessary without limits and that my husband and I can do nothing to protect them?"
Given how much photographers can get for photos of A-list kids, Garner likened it to her children having "a bounty on their heads."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the measure in question, SB 606, "would increase monetary and jail penalties for harassing a child under 16 and expand the definition of any activity that 'seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes' a young person to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a parent or legal guardian." It would also make it possible for parents or guardians to seek restraining orders against especially aggressive photographers.
The California Newspaper Publishers' Association and the National Press Photographers Association both oppose the measure on the grounds that it would allegedly infringe on First Amendment rights.
Thanks to the actresses' impassioned testimony, SB 606 passed the Judiciary Committee, to be reviewed next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.