During the Greensboro Council Meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Nancy Vaughan proposed new rules for the conduct of attendees during public council meetings, which passed in a 7-1 vote.
The new rules, she said, will tackle speakers who “intentionally disrupt” meetings. Disruptions have been an issue in the past, but the change is not the direct result of the infamous June 6 meeting which was full of “passion” and “emotion,” Vaughan told TCB in an interview.
“It’s something that has been building over time,” Vaughan said.
“In order to maintain a safe space for all speakers,” Vaughan stated on Tuesday, “starting today, members of the audience or speakers from the podium who intentionally disrupt the meeting or ridicule other speakers will be given a warning.”
If unheeded, Vaughan said, the disruptor will be removed from the meeting. They would then be suspended from in-person participation for three months; they may still participate virtually.
“It’s clear they’re doing this because of how members of our organization and a few others interact,” WHOA’s Del Stone said during an interview with TCB. Stone explained that people are angry for “good reason.”
Vaughan asked the council members for a voice vote in support of the new procedure, which passed 7-1. Sharon Hightower cast the sole dissenting vote and Zack Matheny was absent.
Marikay Abuzuaiter claimed that she’d heard from “many people” in the community who were “hesitant” to come to city council meetings because of the “disruptions.”
“I think this is a really good move,” Abuzuaiter concluded.
Hightower disagreed. “Let me be clear,” she said, “This is the people’s house; this is not our house.”
“There are things that are happening to our speech,” said Hightower, who said she disapproved of the fact that people could be banned from meetings for a period of time.
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