Once again council convened in a different room than chambers for its Monday night meeting, on account of pro-Palestine protesters.
“Since December Surrey city council meetings have been disrupted by pro-Palestine protesters who have occupied council chambers,” Locke noted at the beginning of the meeting.
This was the fourth time since Nov. 20. It also happened Dec. 18 and Jan. 15.
“In fact, we have had to take various safety measures including increasing security and police presence to safeguard visitors and staff,” she said. “The right to peaceful assembly does not extend to blockading lawful activities.”
Locke cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Surrey council meetings have been regularly disrupted and the actions of the protesters are disrupting the right of the public to attend and speak on items from the meeting’s agenda, so reluctantly we have had to take this step to move the public outside of the gallery in order to ensure the business of the city continues,” she said.
Police were stationed in the parkade at the end of the meeting to make sure the council members could safely leave City Hall.
“It was pretty crazy,” Coun. Linda Annis said. “We went out the back way and they were out near the other entrances. They couldn’t get anywhere near us, they were locked outside. The whole City Hall was locked down.”
“They were very noisy, chanting a lot and calling out some of the councillors and the mayor,” she said. “We were perfectly safe. I just wonder when it’s going to stop, right? Just very, very unfortunate because them protesting, which of course they have every right to do, but people that wanted to come in and speak I think were fearful to come to City Hall.”