City Council meeting ends early after audience members shout at councilors, police

City Council meeting cut short after crowd demands to be heard

The Sacramento City Council postponed a vote on banning some items from protests, leading to outbursts at the meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 22, 2019.
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The Sacramento City Council postponed a vote on banning some items from protests, leading to outbursts at the meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 22, 2019.

Several people who waited more than two hours to talk to the Sacramento City Council about a proposal to ban items at protests did not get the chance Tuesday.

Because officials pulled the item from the agenda, people had to wait until the end of the meeting to give comments about the plan.

After two hours and 20 minutes, when it was almost time for the council to hear public comments, the mayor excused himself.

“I’m going to excuse myself,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “I’ve got an early flight.”

Steinberg is flying to Washington D.C. early Wednesday for the United States Conference of Mayors, his spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said.

Steinberg got up to leave, leaving it up to Eric Guerra, the newly-named vice mayor, to run the rest of the meeting.

After the mayor got up, while he was being booed from the audience, a young man stood up in the audience and shouted out, asking to talk to Steinberg.

Steinberg apparently signaled for the man to come talk to him on the side of the room. Instead, the man went up to the podium and started talking into the microphone. Two more people stood up with the man. After a warning, Guerra asked police to escort the man out.

Guerra then attempted to continue the meeting, but when a few people continued to shout out, he adjourned it.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison, who stayed quiet during the yelling, said she would have liked the chance to speak to the council even if the mayor was not there.

“I waited all night to speak about the issue I wanted to talk about and I didn’t get to be heard tonight, so that’s very disappointing,” Faison said.

Faison did not know the man who was asking to speak to the mayor, she said.

Even after the protest item was pulled from the agenda an hour before the meeting started, Faison’s organization was posting on social media telling people to show up to speak about the issue.

There were more than 60 people in the room when the meeting got shut down. More than 20 had signed up to speak, City Clerk Mindy Cuppy said in a text message.

The council’s Law and Legislation Committee is expected to discuss the protest ordinance at its Feb. 5 meeting, Cuppy said. Public comments will be allowed.

The ordinance would ban baseball bats, mace, glass bottles, lanterns and other items that could be used as weapons at protests.

The committee could then send the ordinance back to the full council for approval.

A previous version of this story said more than 20 people waited to speak to the City Council on a proposal to ban protest items. The city clerk’s office said 28 people signed up to speak at the end of the meeting, and that five specifically mentioned the protest ban.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.