PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland City Council on Wednesday passed an ordinance to eject disruptive people from council meetings and exclude them after repeat offenses.
Council members say it has become the norm for protesters to shout until the council has no choice but to shut the meeting down.
“We haven’t been able to get our business done because there are people who come into the chamber with the express intent of disrupting everything,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “They disrupt testimony, they disrupt the staff, they disrupt testimony from the public that they disagree with.”
Under the ordinance a disruptive or threatening person can be ejected. And if the behavior is repeated at future meetings, the person can be excluded for up to 60 days.
Even while the ordinance was under review Wednesday, people in the chambers began yelling profanities and aggressively approaching council members.
Protesters disrupt city council
City council was met with protests yesterday as they passed an ordinance to eject people who disrupt council meetings. (Warning: Graphic language) Story: http://on.kgw.com/2mC7g87Posted by KGW-TV on Thursday, March 16, 2017
Commissioner Amanda Fritz said citizens are increasingly afraid to even attend the meetings.
“People are not coming to city council chambers because they are afraid of being abused: yelling, pointing, screaming,” she said as people were pointing and screaming at her.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon legal director Mat Dos Santos said the ordinance is unconstitutional.
“It is a direct contradiction to an order by federal judge Simon in 2015, saying they could not prospectively exclude” people.
The order will take effect in 30 days, but the ACLU plans to appeal.