Protests over noise ordinance break out at Charlotte City Council meeting

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Three people were charged after a protest broke out at a Charlotte City Council meeting Monday. This was all over a new noise ordinance that has anti-abortion and pro-choice protestors raising their voices.

The proposed change to the city's noise ordinance among other things, would create a noise buffer within 200 feet of churches, schools, and medical facilities. It would also ban amplified sound equipment like bull horns, megaphones, and loud speakers.

“This is not a physical buffer. This will not stop folks from walking on sidewalks,” said City Councilmen Harlow.

“Are you aware that Speed Street, Taste of Charlotte, Greek fest all fall within these buffer zones?” asked Daniel Parks.

Hundreds of anti-abortion protestors packed the government center ahead of city council's vote.

They say the ordinance violates their right to free speech, as it would prevent them from protesting outside of clinics that provide abortions. 

“We are here to be a voice for the voiceless,” said Parks.

But after years of protestors packing outside a local abortion clinic others say all that noise is harassment. 

“It’s about the right for all our citizens in this city to feel safe and to access healthcare free of harassment, abuse, intimidation, and fear,” said Kelsea McLain.

Some signs seen around the building read: “Free speech is not noise," while others said “Harassment is not free of speech!”

Once inside of the chambers, police say about five activists jumped up on the table, disrupting the meeting. 

Two of the protestors stood on the council's dais and held up a banner while chanting “women of the working class we won’t stand to be harassed," right as the Charlotte City Council members and Mayor Vi Lyles were taking their seats.

The City Council immediately called a recess. Police say multiple verbal warnings were given, but the protestors did not stop. At least two of those protesters were led away in handcuffs and three of them were charged with disruption of official meetings. Those charged were Landon Rice, 24, Julia McCarthy, 18, and Benson Crooks, 21. 

Police say the other two ran from the building and were not apprehended.

The city council meeting went on after that with more than 100 people wanting to voice their opinion. Mayor Vi Lyles said at the start of the meeting the microphone would be cut off after one minute.

After the community comment, the council voted 8-3 to approve the measure.