LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to establish new rules for public speakers who they say push the boundaries of decorum during meetings. The move goes against what people say is their right to freedom of speech.
“You’re disrupting the meeting, you’re disrupting the meeting so let’s have him removed,” one councilmember said as a protester disrupted the beginning of the meeting.
Los Angeles Police officers had to escort the man out as he shouted “All power to the people!” with a fist raised. It’s the very thing the city council is now cracking down on.
They voted unanimously to adopt new rules to ban anyone who repeatedly disrupts meetings for up to six days. Under previous rules, someone who disrupted the meeting could be kicked out of the current one but could later return to other meetings.
Before the vote, passionate pleas were made by the public.
“We have a constitutional right to educate, annoy and even disrespected you and we won’t be stifled,” said protester Audrey George. “It’s a right not a privilege, vote no.”
Some in the audience held signs that read, “Denial of Constitutional Rights” and “Criminalization of Protest.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said the council’s decision is a blatant violation of free speech.
But Councilman Paul Kortez said it’s a reasonable set of steps that target people who constantly come to disrupt the meetings – not those who are there to express their opinions.
“We need to put in some rules so that somebody can’t just come and make loud animal noises and wild gestures and run around the council floor trying to make it impossible for us to do our business,” Kortez said.
Despite the protests, the council took the bold move to approve the stricter set of rules.