Oakland City Council meeting interrupted by protests, audience approves
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Oakland City Council Members were scheduled to vote on its budget during a special meeting Monday night when it was disrupted by protestors.
About two hours into the meeting, it came to a halt when members of the audience interrupted the meeting who didn't like the budget proposal and didn't want city council to pass it.
"We're going to have a people's council meeting because apparently when the people speak to you all, you don't hear us," says one protestor as the demonstration started.
About 30 people, led by a coalition including the group called Anti-Police Terror Project, stood up to disrupt the meeting.
Several people handcuffed themselves to the swing gate that separates the audience from city council members.
"More money for housing! More money for art! More money for workers! More money for our young people!" said one protestor.
The protest lasted for 30 minutes.
"The audience stood up and organically participated," says Stevie Dawson with East Bay Housing Organizations. "I supported it. I didn't know about it before going in there tonight."
The protesters disbanded after they got what they wanted, which was to delay the city council from voting on the budget Monday night. But the mood among the audience that packed into city council chambers had been contentious from the get go.
One speaker opposes a proposal to raise revenues by hiring more parking enforcement officers to give citations.
City Council Members say their focus is on a budget that would address the problems of homelessness, illegal dumping and affordable housing.
Protestors say there has not been any or enough community input., so disrupting the meeting was what they had to do.
"We should embrace this as a victory. The people don't often win our demands. Elected officials have the power, but tonight the people won. There's more work to do," says Cat Brooks with Anti-Police Terror Project.
City Council President Larry Reid tells KTVU the budget discussion and vote will resume either Wednesday or Thursday.
He said he was not surprised by what happened since he had heard there may be a disruption shortly before the meeting starting.
The city charter requires that there be an approved budget by June 30th.