Bloomington City Council member Dave Rollo decided the only way to have Wednesday's discussion of the city's deal to buy Indiana University Health's current hospital site was to remove Black Lives Matter organizer Vauhxx Booker.
Booker disrupted the city council's committee of the whole to air his group's grievances about the city's purchase of a $225,000 armored vehicle. The group has used the same method of protest at public meetings over the past few months, including interrupting the State of the City address in February.
At the beginning of Wednesday's meeting, Rollo said the night's public comment was restricted to matters on the official agenda. Booker continued to talk over council members despite Rollo's offer of time to speak at the city council's meeting next week and several warnings that continued disruptions would result in his removal.
"I understand that is the consequence of speaking out," Booker said.
City council members filed out of the council chambers to the sound of protesters chanting the phrase, "Let him speak," as Bloomington Police Capt. Scott Oldham peaceably escorted Booker to the front doors of City Hall. Once the chants died and protesters filed out of the room, the council returned to their seats to consider the night's only agenda item.
"This is protocol, and everyone that doesn't follow the protocol is subject to be removed," Rollo said after the meeting. "It's vital that we retain order to do our business."
Outside the meeting, Booker said the city administration had repeatedly told the group that they will not disrupt peaceful protests. Booker said his group was peacefully protesting during the meeting when he was asked to leave or risk being arrested. He related the city's response to Black Lives Matter Bloomington's concerns that the armored vehicle could be used to disrupt such peaceful protests.
"The only obligation we have to public comment is that we offer it to everybody," council member Steve Volan said. "What council member Rollo did was textbook, which was call for order."