Ward 4 Riverside Councilman Paul Davis responded to The Truth Publication an inquiry about the incident involving public speaker Karen Wright. He was at the dais then and witnessed the whole episode.
|COUNCILMAN PAUL DAVIS: Exclusive|
comments about the handcuffing of Public
Speaker Karen Wright that he witnessed.
Thank you for the inquiry and your interest in the occurrence with Ms. Karen Wright at the November 23, 2012 daytime and evening Council Meetings. I must preface this response with a statement that I do not condone nor condemn the actions of either Ms. Wright or the Police officer(s) involved. I am simply to relay what I saw and heard, prior to and after this unfortunate incident.
During the afternoon session of the Council Meeting and in most prior meetings, Ms. Wright had consistently disregarded the rules of conduct and had been previously warned that her continued actions will not be tolerated. Since Ms. Wright has a clear issue with authority and believes that no rules apply to her, she has taken it upon herself to discover how far she can push the limits of the rules established and administered by the Mayor.This occasion was no different with a few real serious exceptions. During the evening session of the Riverside City Council Meeting, Ms. Wright had spoken and her time limit had expired. During her speaking period she was as she normally had been, very outspoken, which I support her ability to say what she wants exercising her First Amendment Rights. However, after her time had expired and the Mayor had Thanked her for speaking, telling her that her time had expired, she proceeded to become rather louder and even more belligerent and engage the Mayor in a less than cordial manner.
After less than a minute of her continuing her rant, an officer approached her and asked her to calm down and to have a seat. She disregarded the officers request and proceeded to march towards the area where the City Management Staff sits, stating that she was going to put in her speaking cards, for the speech she just gave, into the bin. Which, under the rules, is to be submitted prior to speaking and she never does, since Ms. Wright states that she keeps her notes upon herself and needs them to speak.
The officer again told her that she needs to be calm, take her seat and she ignored him. At that time, the officer directed her to return to her seat and Ms. Wright turned and began to advance towards where she had been sitting. Ms. Wright then uttered some choice words to the officer, which may have been directed towards the council. He then told her to step outside, since she was clearly disrupting the meeting and she chose to continue to ignore him. The officer then took her right arm at the elbow and told her that she needs to accompany him outside. Ms. Wright then jerked her arm away from the officer, stating something to the effect that she needed to get her things and for him not to touch her.
At that time she also decided to sit down, on the floor, just outside the Dais entrance door and near her seat, with her hands not visible from my vantage point. Ms. Wright began to holler that her rights are being violated and would not comply with the officers orders to stand up and exit the meeting chambers. During that time the officer applied handcuffs to Ms. Wright and later took them off, after assisting Ms. Wright to her feet. She was then led outside where she was cited for her disrupting a public meeting. Ms. Wright later returned to the chambers, but a slight change in her demeanor.Many have asked why the members of the Mayor, Council, or city Staff, did not take any actions to stop the officer from his actions. As a matter of law, no person has the authority to interfere with the lawful order or actions of a Police Officer performing his duties. By doing so, you would be in violation and you will be held for Obstruction of Justice, and be subject to severe penalty. If the officer felt that he observed her not complying with the established rules of a Public Meeting and after being warned, that person fails to comply, he has the authority to take the appropriate actions he feels necessary to resolve the issue before him. In this case, he did so, and no person has the authority to tell him otherwise and would not be appropriate to do so. The officers Captain was present and involved with the situation, during the entire incident. If that officer acted outside the scope of his authorities, then it is incumbent upon the Internal Affairs and Police Chief to effect the necessary corrections.
We as the elected body, do not have any authority to get involved in any way, by State Law and the Charter of this city. Ms. Wright has and will enjoy the ability to speak her mind at any Public Meeting and I will always support this. However, to maintain decorum and civility, the rules that have been established must be adhered to. Ms. Wright is aware of this, as I have personally, spoken to her about her conduct at past Council and other meetings, Public and otherwise. She chooses to ignore such pleads to maintain composure and decorum and carry on in the manner she does. Unfortunately for Ms. Wright, on this occasion, the officer felt that she had clearly stepped beyond the established line and took the actions he felt was necessary.
I hope this helps you to understand the incident and actions taken last Tuesday and look to you for your comments and this situation. This is simply my recollection of the events and may not be shared as the same from others.Paul Davis
Council member - Ward 4
City of Riverside.
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"I have a question for Mr. Davis. If the city council thinks what happened was officer-initiated and appropriate behavior then why did the mayor tell the Los Angeles Times that the city government is changing that policy and having an expulsion at the discretion of the city council/mayor and not the police? I think the city's preparing its defense and the first thing it does is find city employees to throw under the bus." --- Mary Shelton, Five Before Midnight.
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