Three people removed from a May Metro Council meeting have sued the city of Baton Rouge and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson, who they contend violated their first amendment rights.
Gary Chambers, Mike McClanahan and Eugene Collins filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge Monday morning over events related to the May 10 Metro Council meeting. When the council opened the floor for public comments on items concerning sewer backups, the three approached the podium to talk about the death of Alton Sterling, who was fatally shot by Baton Rouge police last year.
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Wilson had the sergeant at arms remove six people, saying they had to speak on the topic at hand. In their suit, the plaintiffs contended that "the Baton Rouge government should not return to business-as-usual without first resolving how to respond to the killing of a member of the community by BRPD officers."
The suit argues that speakers at other meetings have been afforded the opportunity to wander off-topic without reprisal. The plaintiffs, who are black, view their removal as an attempt to silence them based on their race.
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"Scott Wilson is part of a long history of Baton Rouge's government suppressing the voices of its Black citizens. ... Defendants discriminated against the content and viewpoint of Plaintiffs' speech by having Plaintiffs removed from the Metro Council chambers before their public comment time was up," the suit states.
Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment.
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