Richmond council meeting cleared by police amid chaos
By Robert Rogers Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/24/2013 06:43:04 AM PDT
Updated: 07/24/2013 06:43:34 AM PDT
RICHMOND -- Police were summoned to clear the City Council chambers during Tuesday night's meeting when protesters, some screaming through bullhorns, brought city business to a halt.
The meeting continued with more than 100 people in an adjacent lobby and on the patio forced to watch via a wall mounted television.
"The council chambers had to be cleared because of really, really strong disruptions," Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said.
More than a dozen police officers rushed to the scene to quell the disturbance. Some residents were escorted arm-in-arm from the meeting, but no injuries or arrests were reported.
Outside, residents seethed in anger.
"If you can't listen to the community, what kind of government is this?" said resident Antwon Cloird.
"This is a shame," said Sims Thompson. "I'm a disgusted senior citizen. How can you conduct the city's business with the citizens forced to sit out in the hallway?"
Councilman Tom Butt, who has frequently complained about disruptive behavior during city meetings, posted videos on Facebook showing residents milling about the chambers, yelling and chanting through bullhorns.
The reason for the disruption remained murky. Some residents groused about McLaughlin, who months ago began calling five-minute recesses to tamp down unruly behavior or speakers talking out of turn.
Other residents viewed the spectacle with humor.
"It's like a Jerry Springer show in here," said resident Dennis Dalton, looking around at the gaggle of residents with police officers posted at every corner of the room.
Resident Jackie Thompson said the scene was fit for an episode of Comic View.
Residents signed up to speak on agenda items were escorted back into the chambers, five at a time, to speak for two minutes each.
The council continued its discussion, first taking up an item proposing a retreat for council members aimed at facilitating more harmonious relations.
"Everyone I see in the community asks me the same thing," said Nat Bates, who proposed the retreat. "When will Richmond get its act together?"
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.