MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneapolis NAACP is demanding action after 10 people were thrown out of a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting Wednesday night. Four of them were arrested.
"Jayne Miller has got to go. Jayne Miller has got to go," the crowd chanted during the meeting.
Verbal warnings were given to those who were engaging in the disruptive behavior and when they refused to stop, Park Police removed them from the meeting.
The chanting started when the board delayed public comment. For months, the group has demanded to end to what they see as vast racial disparities, from the top of the organization to the grounds of its parks. Now, the board is working on adopting a new policy that would ban "clapping, shouting, chanting, stomping of feet, whistles and making remarks when not recognized by the presiding officer."
On Thursday, Board President Anita Tabb released a statement:
“The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a long history of protecting First Amendment rights, fostering safe protests and gatherings for expression of First Amendment rights, and providing the public with an opportunity to share comments and concerns with Commissioners at the beginning of every Board meeting during a designated Open Time. There are well established rules and processes related to Open Time and these rules have been shared with community members at the beginning of each Open Time period since May. However, over the last several months community members have been vocally disrupting Board meetings outside of the Open Time period, and several members have been increasingly verbally disrespectful of Open Time speakers that do not share their views. During the last 13 meetings, there has been a need to temporarily recess Board meetings 6 times due to these disruptions. At the September 7 meeting, audience members received multiple warnings that those who engaged in disruptive behavior would be removed from the room and subject to arrest. While this is consistent with State Statute 609.72.1(2) and with Minneapolis City Council processes, I am very disheartened that it has come to this point.”
Those arrested, including Raeisha Williams, said they have been banned from entering the building for one year. Williams also said a violation could lead to trespassing charges.
By contrast, Dawn Sommers, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said no one was banned from returning to the building for one year.
"Of the ten people removed from the Board room during the Sept. 7 Board meeting, four were cited in lieu of arrest and later released. Upon their release those cited were told they could not return to the building for the remainder of the evening," she wrote in an email. "Those who were issued citations were told if they did return to the building that evening, they could be subject to a citation for trespassing."
Earlier this summer, The former board president and vice president stepped down after mounting criticism from the group. On Thursday, members called for the resignation of Minneapolis Park Board Superintendent, Jayne Miller.