ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — Democratic officials in Orange County Monday called on the Anaheim City Council to ban any members of the public who make disruptive remarks at a council meeting from speaking at future meetings.
The call for action comes after resident William D. Fitzgerald made a series of anti-Semitic remarks and used a gay slur against Councilmember Jordan Brandmanat a Sept. 30 council meeting.
During Fitzgerald’s speech, which was posted in a video on YouTube, he characterized a small minority of the Jewish community as “greedy,” “scheming,” “malicious and anti-American.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the Jewish people are good, hardworking individuals who practice their faith,” Fitzgerald said. “Unfortunately, less than one percent are greedy, scheming malicious Jews like Jordan Brandman.”
Mayor Tom Tait interrupted Fitzgerald during the speech to warn him about potentially violating City Council rules.
“You have free speech rights, you certainly do,” Tait said. “But they’re to a point.”
In a statement, Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) Chair Henry Vandermeir condemned the remarks against Brandman, the Council’s lone Democrat, as “reprehensible.” He alleged they were in direct violation of the Anaheim Municipal Code Rules of Decorum, which requires anyone who “addresses the City Council during any meeting of the City Council shall refrain from personal, threatening, abusive, slanderous or profane remarks to any member of the Council, staff or general public which remarks disrupt, disturb or impede the orderly conduct of the Council meeting.”
Vandermeir additionally called on Mayor Tait to bar Fitzgerald from speaking at any further council meetings “since he has a history of engaging in personal attacks against city council members.” Vandermeir did not elaborate on that allegation.
“While I agree that the foundation of our democracy lies in the people’s freedom of speech and that Mr. Fitzgerald’s reprehensible remarks are included in those rights, I also believe that we have a responsibility to respond when those rights are maliciously abused and the boundaries of public respect are overstepped,” Vandermeir said.
The Municipal Code also states that anyone who “engages in any conduct which disrupts, disturbs or impedes the orderly conduct of any Council meeting, shall, at the discretion of the presiding officer or a majority of the Council, be barred from further addressing the Council during that meeting.”
Tait issued a statement last Thursday on his Facebook page stating the following:
“I’ve had some time to stew on this terrible experience and I want to make it clear to anyone who was in City Hall Monday morning, and to all of the people who live, work, shop or play here in the City of Anaheim that we believe that all people are created equal, and that we soundly reject hate-mongering, anti-Semitism, and bigotry wherever it should rear its ugly head.”
According to Tait, Fitzgerald has a history of verbally attacking both himself and the Council in a “vicious and untruthful manner,” but added there was very little he could do to stop such attacks.
“I have been told by our city attorney that I cannot legally stop him from saying such hateful things, but I can call it what it is: morally reprehensible,” the statement read.
The next scheduled City Council meeting is on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.