Woman Files Federal Lawsuit Over Arrest at City Council Meeting — Why She Was Led Away in Handcuffs May Disturb You

A woman who was arrested after she repeatedly clapped at a city council meeting has filed a federal lawsuit, according to the Associated Press.

Letitia Pepper argued that her constitutional rights were violated, the Riverside Press-Enterprise added.

Pepper is placed under arrest at the council meeting for clapping. (Image source: Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Pepper is placed under arrest at the council meeting after repeated clapping. (Image source: Riverside Press-Enterprise)

Pepper — an attorney and a longtime critic of Riverside, California government — was taken away in handcuffs last June but never charged.

Authorities say she disrupted the meeting by repeatedly applauding speakers even after being warned by Mayor William Bailey, who said the clapping might discourage others with different points of view from commenting, according to the Press-Enterprise.

As police arrested Pepper, she’s heard on video yelling, “You are assaulting me! Take your hands off me!”

Her suit names the city, the mayor, the city attorney, and police chief, the AP reported.

More from the Press-Enterprise:

In 2012, resident Karen Wright, who often comments at city meetings, was handcuffed and accused of disturbing a meeting after she spoke beyond her allotted three minutes and then refused to sit down. Wright was not charged in the incident.

In the lawsuit, Pepper, an activist who has run for mayor and council, said she and others were clapping when speakers had finished and were leaving the lectern, which didn’t disrupt the meeting or prevent anyone from being heard. […]

A city resolution on the rules of order prohibits “unruly conduct, such as undue noise, hissing, profanity, insult or physical disturbance” that disrupts the meeting, as well as stamping, whistling and yelling.

The suit argues that the city’s rules for meetings and its decorum policy are shortcut the rights of assembly, freedom of expression and petitioning the government, the Press-Enterprise added.

In a statement, Bailey says the city tries to respect free speech rights at council meeting, adding that meeting rules aim to ensure that city business can be carried out without unnecessary disruptions, the AP noted.

Here’s a clip of Pepper’s arrest:

(H/T: Drudge Report)