Public speakers were allowed at the monthly public forum meeting of the Greensboro City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

That might not sound like news, but it is the first time since the City Council started meeting virtually in April that the City Council has allowed public speakers at the monthly public forum meeting. In April, May, June, July, August and September, the City Council held its monthly public forum meeting without allowing anyone from the public to speak or even to send in written comments to be read during the meeting.

The meeting announcements stated that public comments sent in by email would be summarized at the meeting, but they weren’t. Instead, Mayor Nancy Vaughan stated that comments received would be posted on the website the following day.

Speakers have been allowed on pubic hearing items and on resolutions, so it wasn’t that the city didn’t have the technology available to allow people to speak.

Frequent public forum speaker Hester Petty had the honor of being the first public forum speaker in six months and she began by stating, “This is the first live public comment period since April.” She added that she discovered it was possible to speak to the City Council only because she had emailed a request 13 days before the meeting.

Petty spoke about the death of Marcus Deon Smith and asked that all the officers involved in the incident be fired.

Lewis Pitts, another frequent speaker during the public comment period, asked that the disciplinary records of all the police officers involved in the Marcus Smith incident be released.

Ben Holder spoke about the group home owned and operated by former Deputy Police Chief James Hinson and said that a known child molester was hired to work at the group home for young men and was later charged with sexually molesting one of those young men but that no action was taken against Hinson.

Gary Kenton spoke about the Klan-Communist Workers Party shooting on Nov. 3, 1979, and said that many years ago he wrote a paper for a history class about the “very bad coverage” of the event by local media.