Police Break Up News Conference - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/19/04

Police Break Up News Conference

Police breaking up the conference. Police breaking up the conference.

A news conference organized by a group of people who are against the G-8 summit got a little out of hand at Savannah City Hall this morning. It ended when the police had to be called in. It started outside, but the group moved inside without permission and that's when things got messy.

"We came here today to announce our progress we've made in our negotiations with the city," said Margy Betz of the G-8 Carnival. "But because of the truck traffic, it was hard to even think let alone speak with the press."

So without permission, they moved inside to the rotunda, right below where city council members were having a workshop. Group member William Pleasant approached the security guard to ask if it was okay. "The clerk said, 'We have this protocol,' and etcetera, etcetera, which is fine, but when I came back out the press was already in the place," he told us. "What was I supposed to do? Stop the press conference?"

The police said yes and showed up to stop the news conference.

City Hall has a policy for public use. "This is a public building but you have to have a reservation to hold a public event," explained city manager Michael Brown.

"If they have a protocol on how to use this joint, then that needs to be changed," said Pleasant.

But Brown says it's all about keeping the building safe. "We respect people's right to speak their piece, but this has to be a secure building."

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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