Changes at Peekskill council meetings after fight

October 9, 2013 4:08:08 PM PDT
A controversial new set of rules at council meetings in the Westchester County City of Peekskill is now in effect. Do the new rules affect the right to free speech?

An exchange at a Peekskill City Council meeting almost ended in fisticuffs. It happened September 23rd when a community activist and longtime critic of the mayor, interrupted the man speaking at the podium in support of the administration. Then things got ugly.

Darrell Davis admits he used profanity but insists he's the one who's been subjected to years of intimidation by police at public meetings, and harassment by supporters of the mayor.

This latest incident was recorded not only by the council's official camera, but also by Davis' girlfriend who at one point pans to show the crowd. Another spectator objects to being recorded and reaches for the cell phone, setting off another melee.

The city council has adopted new rules for future meetings; public comment will be limited to three minutes from five. And calling out from the gallery will result in immediate expulsion.

Again political opponents have pounced, but Mayor Mary Foster denies the new rules are an attempt to silence anyone.