Was a woman wrongfully removed from a Chatham Co. Board of Elections meeting?

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - You may have seen video from Monday’s Chatham County Board of Elections meeting.

Chatham County Police officers are seen carrying a woman out after she refused to leave.

The Board of Elections says she was ruled out of order during a public comment period at the meeting. The woman can be heard telling officers they were violating her rights, but as WTOC Investigates found, Georgia law does not give anyone the right to speak in public meetings.

Chatham County Police said, upon releasing that bodycam footage, “On Monday, July 10, 2023, Chatham County Police Officers were assigned to provide security at the Chatham County Board of Elections (BOE) meeting. During the proceedings, BOE Chairman Judge Thomas J. Mahoney, III asked CCPD officers to remove a speaker who refused to leave the podium so the meeting could continue.

The speaker then refused officers’ instructions to leave the podium area. As officers were attempting to lead her away from the podium, the speaker continued to refuse to follow commands and sat on the floor. After she continued to ignore officers’ instructions, two officers carried her out of the premises.

While the officers had the right to make an arrest in this circumstance, they did not. Instead, they remained focused on removing the distraction so the public meeting could continue without further interruption.”

CCPD said it released the footage in the interest of transparency and say Command Staff will review the incident.

The Board of Elections also responded to the incident, saying, “One member of the public would not yield to the Chairman after being ruled out of order during her comment period. She was removed from the building by law enforcement officers, who promptly released her. She tried to regain entry three times and was not allowed to return.”

Chatham County Police Officer Body Cam One:

Chatham County Police Officer Body Cam Two: