July 11, 2017
FROM: Robert J. Freeman
RE: RE: question on village board meetings
Chief ‐ ‐
If, as you indicated, a member of the public offers comments during a "public comment period" at a meeting of the Village Board of Trustees, and the comments are not "abusive, threatening, profane, or in any other way illegal," you asked whether the mayor or board member may ask you, in your capacity as Sergeant at Arms, to remove that person from the meeting because they disagree with his/her comments.
In short, in the circumstance that you described, I do not believe that the person making the comments can be removed. Part of the democratic process, in my opinion, involves hearing the pro and the con, the positive and the negative.
Silencing or removing a person because that person may disagree or offer a different or unique point of view would be contrary to principles familiar to all (or most) of us. I note that there are federal court decisions in which it has been held that if a public body permits positive comments regarding a particular topic, the door is open all the way, and it must accept critical comments as well.
I hope that I have been of assistance. If you would like to discuss the matter, please feel free to call 474‐2518. Bob Freeman