PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland city council unanimously passed a new Code of Conduct, to deter protesters from getting threatening or dangerous at council meetings.
The code allows for protesters to be ejected from meetings, and possibly excluded from meetings for up to six months. Monday, one of the protesters told KGW that is unconstitutional, and he took his complaint to federal court.
“We do not want to get up in the morning and disrupt City Hall, that not what I live for,” said 74-year old Joe Walsh.
Walsh has living in Portland for 15 years, and he’s been kicked out of Portland city council meetings before. He says he doesn’t mind the ejection part of the new Code of Conduct, it’s the exclusion he has a problem with. “Your rule is Joe Walsh gets out of line, you throw his butt out... and you tell him you don’t come back until next week. That’s fair. That’s legal. To say you can’t come back for a year, that’s not fair and is not legal.”
Unlike other protesters, Walsh says he has the law on his side. He sued the city in 2015 and a federal judge ruled in his favor, stating you can kick him out of a specific meeting, but you cannot ban him from future meetings based on his prior behavior. And for that reason, Walsh says the city council members are now in contempt of the federal judge’s original order.
So he filed a complaint Monday asking for the city council members to be arrested.
“The function of the federal judge is to find them in contempt, because if I did what they did, I'd be in contempt. So why not them?” Walsh knows the council members will not be arrested, but he’s hoping his complaint will start a dialogue that will change the council’s Code of Conduct.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says the protesters’ behavior, which includes belligerence and profanity, is preventing the council from conducting city business. Wheeler says he’s looking forward to a second opinion from a federal judge.