Spin Control

Marijuana legalization supporters interrupt Spokane council meeting

Spokane Police Detective Ben Estes asks Rebeckah Aubertin to leave the Spokane City Council Chambers after she stood and held signs during a presentation from Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns on March 7, 2011.
Spokane Police Detective Ben Estes asks Rebeckah Aubertin to leave the Spokane City Council Chambers after she stood and held signs during a presentation from Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns on March 7, 2011.

Tonight's Spokane City Council meeting was halted for about three minutes after a few protesters stood in the audience and initially refused to sit or leave the room.

The protesters were from Sensible Washington, a group that supports marijuana legalization. They stood during the annual report to the council from Police Ombudsman Tim Burns, prompting City Council President Joe Shogan to order them to sit or leave.

Rebeckah Aubertin, who said she is the Spokane recruiter for Sensible Washington, held two large signs. One read: "Stop funding dirty cops." Another said: "Prohibition hurts family."

When they refused to comply Shogan asked Police Detective Ben Estes to remove them and the meeting stopped.

Referring to the money the city spends for a police ombudsman's office, Aubertin told the crowd, "Fiscal responsibility would be nice, as well."

Shogan responded: "I don't know what the hell you're talking about, lady, but that's fine."

After talking with the protesters for a couple minutes, Estes persuaded them to leave and he escorted them outside the council chambers peacefully. About ten people from Sensible Washington stayed in the lobby of the chambers for most the rest of the meeting.

Tim Loe, who also was escorted from the meeting, said he was protesting because he has been repeatedly harassed by police as a result of his use of medical marijuana.

At one point during his negotiations with the protesters, Estes told Aubertin that signs were not permitted in the hearing.

Aubertin claimed that she wasn't holding protest signs: "These are art projects," she said.

Shogan overheard the conversation.

"Yeah, and I'm Leonardo da Vinci," he said.

Burns' report is available here.




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Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt is an assistant city editor.

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