As a result of the Tuesday, Oct. 3 Greensboro City Council meeting, Luis Medina, a member of the Working-class and Houseless Organizing Alliance (WHOA), has a lot of company.
At the Sept. 6 City Council meeting, when he was finished speaking from the podium during the monthly public forum, Medina violently slapped the microphone and, at the direction of Mayor Nancy Vaughan, was removed from the meeting for being disruptive. In keeping with a policy approved by the City Council in July, those who are removed from a City Council meeting for being disruptive are banned from in-person attendance at City Council meetings for three months.
At the Oct. 3 meeting, Billy Belcher, also a member of WHOA, questioned the action taken against Medina and, in particular, the fact that Greensboro police officers served him with the notice that he was banned from council meetings for three months.
Belcher said, “I’m curious, if I was to bring a bunch of people in here and started chanting and disrupting your sense of decorum, are you going to send a bunch of cops to every person’s house in that case. Have you thought about that?”
Vaughan replied, “That’s a serious question?”
Belcher said, “Yes.”
Vaughan said, “If it has to be legally served, it will be served by the Police Department.”
Belcher said, “Well, let’s find out.”
Belcher then turned to the audience and in a loud voice chanted, “Whose house is this?”
People in the audience responded, “Our house.”
Belcher slapped the podium for emphasis as he continued the chant.
Vaughan said, “OK. Out.”
At least 10 people were escorted from the Council Chamber as they continued to chant, “Whose house is this?” and “Our house.”
Vaughan said, “Please, make sure we have the names of the people who were removed from the chamber.”
Those removed, including Belcher, will be banned from attending City Council meetings in person for three months.
After an earlier speaker disputed the decision to ban Medina for three months, Councilmember Sharon Hightower said that while she supported free speech, she agreed with the decision to ban Medina for slapping the microphone. Hightower said, “The mayor made that decision and I do agree with it in this situation.”