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Peekskill Common Council Addresses Meeting Behavior

The Peekskill Common Council met to address an altercation that occurred at the Sept. 23 Common Council meeting.
The Peekskill Common Council met to address an altercation that occurred at the Sept. 23 Common Council meeting. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the City of Peekskill

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- The Peekskill Common Council is working to make sure what occurred at last week's meeting will never happen again.

The council held a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 30 to address the altercations that occurred at the Sept. 23 council meeting between Reginald Johnson and civil rights activist Darnell Davis, a critic of the current administration.

A separate altercation occurred between a woman who was filming the proceedings and another woman. In the past, Peekskill meetings had been marred by civil discord and back and forth between attendees.

Mayor Mary Foster blamed much of the recent unrest on electioneering.

"It gets more people riled up and more vocal," Foster said. "We had a candidate storm the podium that dared us to arrest him."

Foster said it is the council's job to listen to the person speaking, not focusing on what is going on in the room.

"I want to put an end to this electioneering at the podium," Foster said. "It's shenanigans going on. There is a place and a forum for that, it's not in the council chambers."

Foster also said she felt uncomfortable by people filming other people at meetings and said they should set a location for cameras.

"It's not fair for people to have their privacy violated," Foster said.

Banning people was discussed at meetings as well as developing sanctions on people who are disruptive. Council members also said if people are being disruptive they should be immediately asked to leave or be escorted out by police.

"Orders from the dais are just as important as orders from a police officer," Foster said. "It's not a suggestion, a thought or recommendation, it's an order. This is how you have a meeting and keep people safe."

The council also agreed to move the podium closer to the dais so their back is to the audience. Council members also said they need to stop responding to residents trying to bait them.

"Public comment is not for discussion," Councilwoman Drew Claxton said. "You want a discussion, go to the mayor or city manager. We get sucked in a lot. People say they can't stand our meetings, so they turn off the TV. It's a shame."

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