CHICO, Calif. - Tuesday's city council meeting started on time and was following Covid 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 because of the pandemic.
But Tuesday night, a group of around 10 people, some carrying flags and most not wearing masks, made their way through the unlocked doors and into the council chambers.
Councilmember Sean Morgan tells Action News Now that Mayor Andrew Coolidge told the group they could not stay but they refused to leave.
The police were called, the council retreated to closed session and the people were escorted out of the building.
City Manager Mark Orme said Tuesday night people would have been allowed in the chamber one at a time for the first time in months.
Orme explained, “This was an intermediary step allowing folks to come back into the chambers now that we are in a different level for Covid, and it enabled folks to come to the lectern and speak their mind. They have to wear a mask but at least it allows for that personal engagement. We never got the opportunity to see that come to fruition because of what occurred.”
None of the people who entered the council chambers were willing to go on camera, but they told Action News Now they had a right to be there, saying other counties are holding in-person meetings.
Jesica Giannola, a woman who did not enter the council chambers, just wanted to follow the rules and be heard.
“We don’t feel like our voice is being heard,” she said. “I am not part of their group protesting. I am a mask wearer, but I do want to be heard. That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m waiting so long to be heard. It’s part of our right and it’s how our opinions and thoughts are heard by the city and hopefully make an impact.”
The city council meeting has been postponed and will continue Monday, April 26th.
Orme said beginning in May, the council meetings will open to in-person attendance at 50% capacity.
People must wear masks but those who do not want to will be allowed to speak in a separate area.