Metro Council removes community members from meeting for planned disruption

Sandra Sterling on her knees in front of BRPD officers (Source: WAFB)
Sandra Sterling on her knees in front of BRPD officers (Source: WAFB)
Source: The Rouge Collection
Source: The Rouge Collection

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Several community members were removed from the East Baton Rouge Metro Council meeting Wednesday afternoon after a reported planned disruption.

WAFB reporters observed some community members being handcuffed and read their Miranda rights after disrupting the council meeting. Local community activist, Gary Chambers, was arrested at the meeting. The Baton Rouge Police Department said Chambers was issued a misdemeanor summons for disturbing the peace and resisting an officer.

Several other community members, including Mike McClanahan, the president of the local NAACP chapter, were escorted from the meeting for reportedly being off-topic.

"They should go before the criminal justice system, but we think that they should be fired," said McClanahan. "That starts the process. Anything short of that is not justice for us."

McClanahan said the goal was to be peaceful, but to get the attention of council members.

"We ain't burning bridges, we ain't throwing cocktails or busting windows. We're only doing what's right. We're only doing our constitutional right, but for them to arrest Gary, it was a show for the cameras, but it does nothing but add fuel to the fire," he added.

While Chambers was taken away in a squad car, protesters, led by Alton Sterling's aunts, made their way through downtown. The impromptu march ended at the BRPD precinct on Third Street as participants waited for Chambers to be released from jail. Once he was released, the group headed back towards City Hall.

According to an article posted on The Rouge Collection, Chambers' online newspaper, a group of local community leaders were planning to protest at the Metro Council meeting to demand the officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling be fired.

Organizations reportedly involved in this protest include the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the National Alliance for Social Justice, the Baton Rouge Community Coalition and other groups. The organizers were reportedly planning to protest on the steps of City Hall before the meeting as well.

Even though the planned protest was not successful in stopping the Metro Council meeting, McClanahan said it did send a strong message.

"Business will not go on as usual. Let's speed up the process. Let's let the powers that be sit down around the table and discuss ways to end police brutality. It's time to put that stuff on the forefront so that we can move on in Baton Rouge," McClanahan explained.

Organizers said this will certainly not be their last demonstration.

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