Friday, August 24, 2012
Rockland County, NY - East Ramapo School Board Meeting Disrupted By Defiant Plaintiff
The policy, which Schwartz proposed after being elected board president in July, limits taping of the public meetings to a designated area at the back of the room. The area is marked by signs.
Emilia White of Spring Valley said her camera’s view was unobstructed — and bothered no one — at her vantage point at the far side of the room next to the chairs set out for the public.
“When you’re ready to arrest me, just drag me out,” said White, after refusing Schwartz’s repeated requests for her to move to the back of the room because, he said, her taping from the location was interfering with the meeting.
The lawsuit is backed by public interest law firm Advocates for Justice.
Tuesday, the meeting came to a halt for nearly an hour as the district’s security director, Tom Carton, and two Ramapo police officers, who had been on standby at the meeting, went back and forth between Schwartz and White trying to facilitate a solution. Rockland County Legislator Toney Earl, D-Hillcrest, also tried to mediate before the board members adjourned to an executive session and left the room. Ramapo police, including two more officers who were called in as the dispute escalated, said it was unlikely they would make an arrest.
Carton and the police said the district didn’t want to make an arrest. Schwartz declined to comment as he walked into executive session.
Board members reconvened in the meeting room about two hours later, around 11 p.m., and White continued videotaping from within a few feet of the same spot, with no objection from board members.