CHICO, Calif. – The Chico Police Department said it is working to identify three people who barged into Tuesday’s City Council meeting and refused law enforcement’s orders to leave.
Tuesday's city council meeting started at its regular time at 6 p.m. and was following COVID-19 protocol, but quickly came to an end when people entered the chamber building.
For more than a year, participation in Chico City Council meetings has been limited to online only due to the pandemic. But now, due to an executive order, the public could attend Tuesday's meeting in person.
Speakers were required to sign up to speak by checking in at one of the speaker card tables located outside of the Council Chamber. All speakers were given instructions to wait in the speaker line. Only one speaker was allowed into the Chamber at one time. Masks were also required for anyone entering the Chamber. In addition, the Engaged Chico civic engagement program was also available for citizen input on agenda items.
But as the meeting started, a group of 15 people, some carrying flags and most not wearing masks, made their way through the unlocked doors and into the Council Chambers.
The Chico Mayor was then forced to put the meeting into recess. Law enforcement said they addressed the group, explaining that they were disrupting a public meeting and needed to exit the Chambers and to fill out speaker cards if they wished to address City Council.
Law enforcement said they continued to educate the group as well as explain California Penal Code Section 403.
"Every person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character, other than an assembly or meeting referred to in Section 302 of the Penal Code or Section 18340 of the Elections Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Authorities said most of the people cooperated with law enforcement and returned outside. However, three people stayed in the Chamber, refusing law enforcement’s orders to leave.
The Chico City Council went into a closed session. The City Council voted to adjourn the meeting due to the disruption. Because the meeting had been adjourned, law enforcement said it chose to use discretion and no physical arrests were made at that time.
The Chico Police Department is now seeking the identity of the three people seen in the photograph above this article. Authorities say they want to hold them criminally accountable for their actions.
Anyone with information regarding the three people's identities is asked to call the Chico Police Department at (530) 897-4900. Callers may remain anonymous.
This is a developing story. Action News Now will keep you updated with new information on-air and online.