Anti-abortion speakers and people in the crowd clashed during a tense Raleigh City Council meeting Tuesday night, making at least one child cry and one council member leave her seat
For at least the third time, speakers, including children, asked the council to make Raleigh a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
Others in the crowd, including some who came to ask for additional police oversight, interrupted the anti-abortion speakers by asking them not to talk on behalf of black people and for women.
One of the first anti-abortion speakers was 13-year-old Addison Woosley who asked for city leaders to make abortion illegal in Raleigh.
“On ultrasounds the baby tries to run away from the disturbing instruments that try to kill the baby,” she said. “The baby’s mouth opens wide in a scream when being killed. These babies are alive. They feel being killed. It hurts them and there is nothing they can do about it. There is no way around it. Abortion is murder.”
She then compared abortion to slavery and said she hoped people would look back on abortion with the same disgust as people look back on slavery. She asked people to pick a side.
“Are you choosing to be like the plantation owner flogging the little black child?,” she said. “Or are you going to protest even if it is going to cost you your life like Martin Luther King Jr?”
That’s when the shouting grew stronger.
“Y’all are so disrespectful,” a woman in the audience shouted at the anti-abortion speakers. “Let black people speak for black people when we are in the room. We can speak for ourselves.”
“You are a black man,” she said directing her comments to Mayor Pro Tem Corey Branch. “You need to stand up and recognize.”
Branch, who was running the meeting in Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s absence, hit his gavel and said, “I need order in here.”
“So, yes, I am a black man,” he said. “And, yes, everyone who signs up has a right to speak. That is the rule of the land. I can’t come up here and say you can speak or you can’t speak.”
People should address their comments to the council and not other people in the audience, he said.
Some of the anti-abortion speakers were shouting back at those interrupting Woosley. One man used his cell phone to film a woman sitting near the anti-abortion people. She flipped him off, saying “right here, pal” and police officers took her out of the room. She was later allowed back in.
There were several children sitting with the anti-abortion speakers, and at least one boy was crying silently in his seat while people yelled at one another.
‘It is disgusting’
After Branch ordered people to be quiet while people spoke, the anti-abortion speakers continued amid some jeers. The last anti-abortion speaker was David Buboltz who was wearing a shirt with a fetus on it that read “I am going to be murdered tomorrow!”
Council member Stef Mendell turned her chair to not face Buboltz as he spoke.
“First I would like to say that, Stef Mendell, it is disgusting that you would turn your back on us and on these babies,” he said addressing the council. “It is. It isn’t disrespectful to me. It is disrespectful to my God. And my God is all powerful. The Almighty God, the one who created the universe. You will stand accountable.”
As he finished his sentence, Mendell stood up and left the chambers to the applause of many in the meeting room. While she was out of the room, Buboltz asked each council member “if they stand for this child killing.”
None of the council members answered, to more cheers in the crowd.
After the meeting Mendell said she didn’t “appreciate being preached to” and she believes abortion should be rare, safe and legal. Outlawing it will result in illegal abortions that are more dangerous, she said.
“It is a free country and everyone has the right to speak and say what they want to say,” Mendell said. “But by the same token I have the right to not listen to what I don’t want to.”
‘We want accountability’
The tension continued during a public hearing for the budget, with a handful of people asking for money to create a police oversight board, something that Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown has said she opposes.
“We want accountability,” said Sanderson High School senior Greear Webb. “We want oversight. We want action. We require these things because we require life, and this city will soon have a reckoning with the black and brown bodies it too often leaves in our streets. Too often do we see people of color brutalized without a word from our leaders. I’ll say that again. Too often do we see people of color brutalized without a word from our leaders. Too often do we see the wringing of elected hands.”
At the end of his speech he called out to council member Dickie Thompson who had his head down. Webb later came back to the podium saying he was frustrated that some members looked around or down as people tried to speak to them. Some people in the crowd told Thompson to wake up.
Branch told Webb he had already spoken and wouldn’t be allowed more time to speak.
Afterward Thompson said he was listening to Webb and all the speakers but he doesn’t engage in a “back-and-forth” with speakers because there is limited time. He called out a few times throughout the meeting asking people to respect the rules of decorum the council voted on that prohibit people from interrupting one another.
“People have to be more respectful of each other,” he said. “If they want to be heard they have to be willing to listen to other people without interrupting. Without hooting and hollering. And shouting them down because they don’t agree with them.”