At large City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter ran the Monday, Aug. 5 Greensboro City Council town hall type meeting at the Union Square campus on Gate City Boulevard and by the end it was clear that Abuzuaiter would not tolerate disruptive behavior.
At the end of the meetings city councilmembers who had been quietly listening to the speakers were each given a few minutes to speak and several people in the audience chose to comment loudly on what councilmembers were saying. When that happened, Abuzuaiter called the men disrupting the meeting by name and warned them. After three warnings she told them to leave.
Luis Medina, who when he spoke from the podium said he represented the Working class and Homeless Organizing Alliance. When he started shouting at Councilmember Goldie Wells, Abuzuaiter said, “This is your last warning. Take him out, security.” Medina left, not quietly but he did get up and leave.
Later when Brian Watkins refused to stop making loud comments, Abuzuaiter said, “Mr. Watkins you must leave.”
Watkins did not. When a security officer and a police officer started walking toward him, Watkins said, “It’s going to take more than two of you.”
But then he did get up and headed for the door, so evidently it didn’t take more than two. It’s not the first time Watkins has been ordered to leave a meeting.
Abuzuaiter said, “If we get into a shouting match up here it’s not going to serve anybody any good.”
Abuzuaiter chaired the meeting because both Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson were out of town. Vaughan participated by phone, but since there were no votes, participating mainly meant listening. Councilmember Sharon Hightower was also absent from the meeting.
The first meeting of the month which is devoted to speakers who are given five minutes each to speak at the podium about the topic of their choosing, has been nicknamed the monthly “yell-fest” because many speakers don’t come to speak but to yell and often they yell from their seats, but not with Abuzuaiter running the meeting.
The people who were thrown out of the meeting had spoken about the police department, homeless issues and the death of Marcus Deon Smith.