The first meeting of the Dallas, Texas Community Police Oversight Board briefly descended into chaos Tuesday night after the public was told they could not speak and address board members, a decision that was reversed after protesters clashed with police officers.
"We will continue to hold you accountable at every single one of these meetings," said one audience member, addressing the board.
Activists at the gathering were outraged at the decision to silence them, which came days after the murder of Joshua Brown, a key witness in the murder trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who murdered her neighbor Botham Jean in Jean's apartment in 2018 while Guyger was off duty.
Speakers at the Tuesday meeting focused their energy on the fact that some members of the board had expressed hesitation at forming the board in the first place, as The Dallas Morning News reported:
Walter "Changa" Higgins, who helped with the coalition that brought forward recommendations to revamp the board, asked members who did not believe in added oversight to step down. Despite repeated calls to resign from attendees, not one member resigned on Tuesday.
"This is bigger than you. This is 40 years in the making," Higgins said at the meeting.
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Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall, who chaired the meeting, called on her officers to clear the room after a demonstrator demanding the right to speak to the board exploded upon being derisively referred to as an "ignoramus" by a member of the meeting's audience.
Minor scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police, and eventually the board relented and allowed members of the community to address the community oversight board.
"Don't let this board appointment and the position that you hold take control or blind your filters on what it is you're here to do," said McKinney City Councilman La'Shadion Shemwell. "You're here to represent the people and to give us a fair opportunity when we are being handled or mishandled by the police here in this city."
Watch video from the meeting: