Citizens not allowed to comment at Statham meeting; one woman ar - CBS46 News

Citizens not allowed to comment at Statham meeting; one woman arrested

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STATHAM, GA (CBS46) -

A CBS46 investigation uncovered more problems in the city of Statham this week. 

Police escorted Kelly Pickens out of the city council meeting for complaining about not being able to speak during public comment, and then she was arrested while talking to a friend on the sidewalk outside.

Joyce Jacks captured the incident on camera.

“Kelly said ‘GD’ to her friend, not to the police officers or anybody else but directly to her friend and the police officers overheard it so they arrested her for using profanity,” Jacks said.

More than a dozen people showed up at the meeting to ask the Mayor to fire Officer Marc Lofton who they believe has been making false DUI arrests, but before they had a chance to express their concerns they were turned away.

“Anytime anybody tried to speak he was saying take them out, take them out, take them out,” Jacks said.

So CBS46 tracked down Mayor Robert Bridges on Wednesday seeking an explanation.

"We didn’t allow people that didn’t live in the city limits to talk… because of the confusion they brought in. They’re not paying city tax and we’re not allowing it,” Bridges said.

But let’s not forget that the mayor did allow them to speak at last month’s council meeting.

“I’m not backing up what so ever on somebody that lives in Atlanta coming out and trying to tell us what to do,” Bridges said. 

So we asked the Mayor why people weren’t allowed to exercise their right to free speech at a public meeting, during public comment.

“Well I told you talk to my lawyer. The rules that we set up are in the rules of order,” Bridges said.

As for Pickens, her booking report says she was not only charged with disorderly conduct, but also disruptive conduct at a funeral or memorial service. 

So we asked the mayor if any of these people will be able to come back to another council meeting and make public comments.

“Yeah, they can come back and speak, but it’s going to be on our conditions, it’s not going to be on their conditions,” Bridges said.

“The mayor wants complete control. He doesn’t want anybody telling him what to do. It’s like he’s the dictator,” Jacks said.

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