They shouted down the mayor and City Council members, took over the Council chambers for about a half-hour, and gave more than four hours of impassioned testimony about how city officials had botched the response to the deadly white supremacist rally here this month.
In the end, the angry residents who spoke at the Charlottesville City Council meeting on Monday got some measure of action as officials said they would have a third-party review the city’s planning and reaction to the rally. The Council also voted unanimously to take the first administrative steps to remove a statue of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in the city.
That move was significant, as it was the Council’s decision earlier this year to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee that prompted the white nationalists to rally in the city earlier this month.
Monday’s meeting was the Council’s first since the rallies on Aug. 11 and 12 that brought hundreds of white supremacists to Charlottesville. White and black residents alike were furious with the police response to the demonstrations, and they faulted officers for not engaging during repeated scuffles. A woman, Heather D. Heyer, was killed when a man drove into counterprotesters.
The meeting started out without incident, but as soon as the rally was mentioned, several residents began shouting down city officials for allowing the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally to take place. The chamber erupted, and when police officers forcibly removed three people, the 100 or so at the meeting broke out into furious chants of “Shame” and “Shut it down!” The three people were issued summonses charging them with disorderly conduct. No injuries were reported.
“I’m outraged!” said Tracy Saxon, 41. “I watched my people get beat and murdered. They let Nazis in here have freedom of speech, and they protect them? And we can’t have freedom of speech?”
At one point, two people stood on the dais and unfurled a banner with the words “Blood on your hands!” as council members and the mayor left the room. The residents refused to cede control of the room until the authorities promised to release the residents who had been taken away and let people have their say.
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Source: New York Times