Unfortunately recent Shreveport city council meetings have resembled the wild, wild west in terms of the comments and behavior of citizens addressing the Council.
Speakers have repeatedly exceeded the time limits for comments. The standing rule is 3 minutes. At the May 4 work session this was expanded to 5 minutes.
Speakers have also shouted at both council members and the mayor. Often the messages were disrespectful, insulting and racially oriented.
One speaker refused to end his speech until escorted out of the council chambers by police. Other speakers were also removed at the direction of the council.
Persons attending the meeting often clapped, spoke out in loud voices and acted inappropriately.
The right to be heard at public meetings does not include the right to disregard set rules. Nor the right to be verbally abusive to the council , the mayor and all those attending the meetings.
The same applies to the right to attend public governmental meetings.
Councilman Grayson Boucher has suggested that the Shreveport City Marshal’s office be present at the council meetings. The Bossier City Marshal provides this service for the Bossier City Council.
Before the council meeting begins, a marshal could advise those in attendance of the rules for speaking and for behavior during the meetings And that those who do not comply will be escorted out of the chambers.
A deputy marshal could be posted on the front row near the speaker’s podium and one in the back of the room. In recognition of racial sensitivity, one of the deputy marshals would preferably be an African American.
Many speakers have complained about the actions/inactions of the Shreveport Police officers. For this reason, good policy dictates that Shreveport police not provide these monitoring services at council meetings.
Council meetings are streamed, televised and recorded. Shreveport citizens as well as persons and business interested in moving to Shreveport can view these. Recent meetings are certainly not sending a good message to viewers and those attending.