Olympia ordinance would make a crime to interrupt a City meeting

Olympia ordinance would make a crime to interrupt a City meeting

The Olympia City Council will consider an ordinance at the Council meeting tonight that would make it unlawful to “knowingly and unreasonably disturb, disrupt or interfere with any city meeting in a city location.”

This comes after anti-fracking protesters interrupted a Downtown Strategy meeting at the Olympia Center last year, causing the meeting to end early. Olympia police officers had responded to the protest, and when they exited The Olympia Center, they saw a 71-year-old man and a 20-year-old man on the ground fighting.

The same group of protesters disrupted a City Council meeting as well. At least two dozen people began chanting outside council chambers not long after Mayor Cheryl Selby reiterated a request for civil protests.

These meetings left city staff, elected officials and residents feeling unsafe, said Kellie Purce Braseth, a city spokeswoman. The interruptions also stalled city business.

The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to disrupt a city meeting.

Interruptive behavior includes:

  • Engaging in violent, tumultuous, intimidating or threatening behavior
  • Using abusive or obscene language
  • Continuous or repeatedly yelling, shouting or making unreasonable noise
  • Perfomaning any other act which unreasonably disturbs, disrupts or interferes with a city meeting
  • Refusing to comply with a lawful order to leave a city location after having being given such an order by police, mayor, council members, staff, or volunteers who are presiding over a city meeting

 

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