Teacher arrest reminder for citizens to know rights and restrictions

Teacher arrest reminder for citizens to know rights and restrictions
(Source: The Advertiser)

The video from the Vermilion Parish School Board meeting has gone viral and many on social media  condemn the actions of the deputy marshal who cuffed teacher, Deyshia Hargrave.

The police chief of Abbeville,Tony Hardy, says Hargrave was booked at the city police station, which does not have a jail, on charges of remaining after forbidden and resisting an officer. Hardy says she made bond and was immediately released.

Still, all the facts are not in.

And, regardless of who was right and who was wrong, citizens are required to follow certain rules in public meetings and hearings. Sheriff Tony Mancuso and longtime Calcasieu Police Juror Hal McMillin say they hate the thought of a citizen being arrested at a public meeting. Both are strong advocates for the first amendment and take no stand on the Vermilion incident, since they weren't there

But Mancuso-- and McMillin agree there are rules and procedures that people must follow at public meetings.

"You need to maintain order because you'd basically have chaos if you didn't, talking about all kind of subjects," said McMillin.

"Although we share, all of us as citizens of the United States, a right to freedom of speech, it does not give us a right to be disruptive," said Mancuso.

In Calcasieu Parish, at most meetings, you're required to fill out a card to speak.

"If the items on the agenda, you sign a blue slip prior to the meeting and you'll have your time at the podium to visit about whatever you want to talk about. If it's not on the agenda, you can come to an agenda meeting and you can get a police juror to put on the agenda so you'll have an open forum to talk about that," said McMillin.

Also people must speak to the item under consideration and not go off into a topic not at issue.

"In our case, the only way you could truly get arrested, is if you got up and did something very aggressive and or physical to somebody and or if you were asked to leave and just refused to leave," said Mancuso.

Also, at some meetings, the chair or president announces that questions will be researched and answered once the facts are gathered-- so unless it's a simple question, it likely won't be answered on the spot.

"I would say that if it didn't get answered, make sure that person understands it didn't get answered, and I'm sure that we will get back with that person, either us as elected officials or staff," said McMillin.

Neither McMillin or Mancuso remember anyone ever being arrested at a local public meeting and they hope it will stay that way. For more on the rights of citizens attending meetings in Louisiana click here.

Sheriff's deputies work security at police jury and school board meetings in Calcasieu Parish.

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