4 Activists Arrested After Interrupting Portland Council Meeting
(Oregon Public Broadcasting) Portland Police arrested fourÂ¬â€ activists for trespassing Wednesday after they refused to leave a City CouncilÂ¬â€ meeting.Â¬â€
The four activists arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t part of an organized group. They come to council meetings most weeks to voice their frustration with city government. And they sometimes disrupt meetings by yelling profanity or shouting over other speakers.Â¬â€
After a disruption began, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales paused the meeting andÂ¬â€ ordered everyone out of the council chambers. One activist, Joe Walsh, refused to leave the room, citing his disabilities. Walsh has lung disease and uses an oxygen tank.Â¬â€
Portland Police then arrested Walsh and three others â€šÃ„Ã® Robert West, Mary Eng and Kif Davis â€šÃ„Ã® on charges of trespassing.
Walsh says heâ€šÃ„Ã´s stepped up his protests at City Hall because he believes the mayor is implicated in theÂ¬â€ controversy surrounding now formerÂ¬â€ Police Chief Larry Oâ€šÃ„Ã´Dea.Â¬â€ Oâ€šÃ„Ã´Dea is under investigation for failing to report a shooting incident in eastern Oregon.Â¬â€
Hales says heâ€šÃ„Ã´s concerned the activists' disruptions are discouraging other people from coming to City Hall. He says heâ€šÃ„Ã´s met with them privately to hear their concerns.
â€šÃ„ÃºMy concern is that I think ordinary Portland citizens are less and less willing to come sit in these chambers when they know that kind of disruption is going to occur," Hales said in defense of the arrests.Â¬â€
Walsh attends most city council meetings to protest city government. Earlier this week, Walsh used a megaphone to disrupt a press conference introducing Portlandâ€šÃ„Ã´s new police chief.Â¬â€
Hales previously tried to have Walsh permanently barred from attending council meetings, but a judge ruled that violated Walshâ€šÃ„Ã´s civil rights.
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