LA council enforces rule to bar protesters from entering chamber for meeting
LOS ANGELES - Three people were kept from entering the Los Angeles City Council chamber for Friday's council meeting, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, as the council enforced a rule that allows it to exclude those who have been removed from multiple meetings within three days of the next meeting.
Council President Paul Krekorian also ejected at least a dozen protesters who began chanting and shouting as Friday's meeting began.
Protesters have regularly attempted to disrupt meetings since the City Hall racism scandal broke, demanding that Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo resign before the council resumes conducting city business. But the number of protesters has dwindled this week from at least 20 last week to around a dozen.
"We understand that there will be attempts to disrupt this council meeting from time to time," Krekorian said, after ejecting the last of the protesters from the chamber. "We're going to deal with it as best we can, in a way that deescalates the situation."
Krekorian reiterated that "these meetings of the City Council will not be shut down."
Items on Friday's agenda included several motions regarding adjustments to Los Angeles Animal Services, and consideration of measures to address an increase of charter flights at Van Nuys Airport.
"While I can appreciate people's right to protest, it shouldn't obstruct the work and the responsibility that we have to serve the 4 million people in the city," Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said to City News Service ahead of Friday's meeting. "So we have work and business to continue to do."
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Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer, thanked officers for showing "a lot of patience and grace during these disruptions."
There has been a visible increase in the amount of officers present at City Hall during meetings since protests began. A few weeks ago, as protesters attempted to enter City Hall while the council met virtually, one officer grabbed a protester on the back of the neck to keep him out of the building as another protester was trying to push him into the building.
"Not all Angelenos appreciate cops in riot gear keeping us out of City Hall," one speaker told the council during public comment. "The protesters are not the problem."
Under council rules amended in 2018, anyone removed twice within three business days from council meetings can be excluded from the next meeting, with subsequent exclusions if they return and are removed again.
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Police officers guarded the chamber doors prior to Friday's meeting, checking whether those entering the chamber had been among the ejected protesters on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Jason Reedy, an organizer with the activist group People's City Council, tried talking to the council and Deputy City Attorney Stefran Fauble -- who advises the council at meetings -- at the podium ahead of the meeting. Reedy claimed that the people being kept out didn't disrupt the meetings on both Tuesday and Wednesday and therefore shouldn't have been barred from the chamber.
"Where's your proof?" Reedy asked Fauble.
Reedy was among those later ejected from the meeting.
Krekorian said he would cut short public comment after about an hour, noting he would take only another 15 minutes because "we did have almost a half an hour of disruptions at the beginning of the meeting, which unfortunately took up a lot of time that we could've devoted otherwise to hearing from the public." The council routinely begins its meetings around 15 minutes after the scheduled start time of 10 a.m.
The council Friday was wrapping up its fourth week of meetings since the scandal broke, with de León and Cedillo showing no intentions of resigning and the council attempting to move forward with regular business.
Neither de León nor Cedillo has attended a meeting since Oct. 11.
This week, Krekorian moved to eject protesters after several quick warnings.
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Krekorian cited Council Rule 12, which states in part that "no person in the audience at a Council or Committee meeting shall engage in conduct that disrupts the orderly conduct of any Council or Committee meeting." Krekorian, in his third week as council president, had not cited the rule by name during previous protests.
De León and Cedillo have defied fierce and widespread calls to resign for taking part in a leaked 2021 conversation that involved racist comments and attempts to manipulate redistricting, though a notice of intent to recall de León was filed with the City Clerk's Office on Thursday.
With neither showing any indication he plans to resign, council members have stressed that certain city business needs to get done. The council cannot expel its own members.
De León has conducted a series of television and radio interviews reiterating his desire to regain the trust of the community and his colleagues. Cedillo, who lost his re-election bid, will be off the council in December regardless. His only public comments since an initial statement the day the recordings were released have come through a spokesman, who maintains that Cedillo is at "a place of reflection."