It looked like the beginning of another raucous out of control City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 16 in the Council Chamber, but it wasn’t.
The first item on the agenda was, “Council discussion for an Independent Review of the Marcus Smith incident.”
The city had sent out a press release at 9:39 a.m. on April 16 stating that the independent review would be tabled. When Vaughan read the first agenda item she stated that there would a motion on it.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “Yea, unfortunately due to pending litigation while I certainly support an independent review of the case I make a motion that we table the item until after litigation has been resolved. But I want people to know that I absolutely support an independent review but because of the timing of everything right now we are unable to move that forward. So I would like to make the motion to table the item.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy seconded the motion and said, “This is something that many of us have very strong feelings about. This is not to say that it isn’t going to happen but it has to be delayed due to current litigation.”
Shortly after the unanimous vote to table the independent review. A number of people in the audience started chanting, “Marcus died. The chief lied. Fire the chief of police.”
Vaughan said, “I’m going to have to ask you to please be quiet.” She repeated that several times and then said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the Council Chambers.”
Several councilmembers tried to intervene and Vaughan said, “Please stop we have a procedure now.”
When the chanting continued, Vaughan directed the security guards to remove three people from the Council Chambers and when security guards told them they had to leave they got up and left.
While they were leaving another person in the audience started a chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Wayne Scott has got to go.” Vaughan directed the security guards to have leader of that chant removed. He also left when security guards approached him and the other six or eight people who had been chanting also left.
After that the City Council got back down to business and with 71 items left on the agenda, there was a lot of business to get done.
But the council worked it’s way through the agenda without any further interruptions from the audience and managed to complete the agenda, hold a closed session and adjourned shortly after 9 p.m.
Those who are addicted to watching City Council meetings may have noted that at the very beginning of the meeting there was a warning that this meeting would be different. When Vaughan was reading the Council procedures for the meeting this paragraph had been added. “We expect that all speakers will conduct themselves in a civil and respectful manner at all times. Any disruption of the meeting will not be tolerated. If this occurs, the person will be identified and asked to stop. If the behavior continues and they refuse to leave, they will be removed from the Council Chambers.”
Perhaps those who were removed weren’t paying attention at the beginning of the meeting and missed that part of the Council procedures, but they should know next time.