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Thursday, February 23, 2012

City tells activists to remove signs

Activists criticizing APD and Chief Schultz were asked to refrain from holding up signs around TV cameras and  public forum speakers.

In a phone interview after last nights City Council meeting, Laura Mason, Director of City Council Services, stated that she had received complaints from citizens claiming that the signs were distracting when other speakers were using the public forum. She also felt that most of the activists seemed willing to comply with the request and encouraged them to hold up signs two seats over from the podium, away from the cameras.

"We want for people to be respectful of other people at the meetings and the councilors," she said.

Activist Silvio Dell'Angela disagrees, stating in an email addressing City Councilors, Mason and Mayor Berry, that Mason was not authorized to make the request and demanding a public apology. Dell'Angela also criticized the use of a police officer to intimidate activists.

"Be assured that at the next Council meeting on March 5 that we will have our signs raised behind the speakers and shown to all viewers of GOV-TV and will look forward to seeing if you will have the good police officer there arrest us or force us to leave the Chambers.", retorted Dell'Angela, in the same email.

Black cloth was also placed on chairs around the podium as if to deter people from sitting or placing signs near the podium. Mason claims the City has been employing this practice for years and just wants to keep the peace.

"We will always try to treat Mr. Dell'Angela with respect," replied Mason.


Current City Council Rules of Procedure doesn't mention anything about the proper placement of signs at meetings. However, Section 12. of the Rules and Procedure states that disturbing the meetings in a "disorderly manner" shall be considered "unlawful". It is not clear as to what is considered disturbing and disorderly. The Blotter has contacted The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and is awaiting a response regarding these issues.


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