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Richmond council looks at options for handling disruptive people

The Richmond City Council has passed a proposal to consider options on how to handle disruptive people at its meetings.

Council members passed the resolution directing the city manager to work with the city attorney and police chief to look into options and limits on First Amendment speech at council meetings.

Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, who is openly gay and of African descent, has been the target of homophobic remarks from the public at the meetings.

"I also want to be very clear that this is not about me," Beckles said. "I'm an elected official. As an elected official, I'm expected to take sharp criticisms. But, when the attacks become hateful and poisonous, they intimidate other people from participating."

Tuesday night, police had to remove a member of the audience, which was recessed four times over disruptions.

Beckles' proposal would give the council power to ban residents for up to six months for using comments deemed "hate speech" or "fighting words."
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