Lynchburg councilman questions legality of emergency meeting, mandatory curfew

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 5:25 AM EDT
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Lynchburg city officials declared a local

Monday afternoon during a 1 p.m. press conference. Under the declaration, council members set a voluntary curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A couple hours later, city leaders called an emergency council meeting that at least two council members are raising concern about.

The first concern is about the legality of the emergency meeting. The second is over passing a resolution before every council member had a chance to read the proposal.

Five of the seven council members were present during Monday's emergency meeting held in person at city hall.

"This meeting is technically in violation of our rules and procedures," Turner Perrow of the fourth ward explained at the start of the session. He said there needed to be at least 12 hours notice before such a meeting.

Monday, they had less than two.

However, Perrow moved to temporarily suspend this rule.

"We need to operate within our rules and procedures," he said. "And our rules and procedures allow us to suspend our rules and procedures when we need to and this is obviously a case when that should be done."

The motion passed, but Councilman Jeff Helgeson, who was unable to attend, said this lack of notice was wrong.

"City council can't just have meetings," he told WDBJ7. "You have to be able to alert the members. You have to be able to alert the public. We can change procedures, but changing a procedure means you have to follow the procedure to have the first legal meeting."

The city manager also brought up a proposed change to the curfew ordinance. City attorney, Walter Erwin, explained the need to change the curfew rule from voluntary to mandatory under the city's current state of emergency.

"For the protection of the city, the police department has recommended that we pose a curfew," he said.

Councilman-at-large Beau Wright teleconferenced into the meeting, but abstained from voting on the ordinance.

"I have not yet had a chance to read the proposed ordinance," he said. "So I don't think it would be appropriate for me to vote on it right now."

Helgeson never got to read the proposal either and said more time was needed to discuss the details.

However, the curfew change still passed on a five to six vote.

Helgeson said that while things were bad Sunday night, police were much more prepared Monday and believed protests would remain calm.

, but overall everything stayed relatively quiet.

Copyright 2020 WBDJ7. All rights reserved.

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