City council reschedules interrupted meeting

By on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Columbia Basin Top Stories

WALLA WALLA – Wednesday night’s Walla Walla City Council meeting ended as soon as it began as a large group of attendees refused to wear masks inside the council chambers as required by city and state law.

The crowd reportedly showed up to address a false rumor that had spread on social media regarding the city council and vaccination requirements to “do anything in the city of Walla Walla.”

The agenda for Wednesday’s city council meeting included a repeat presentation from Monday’s work session on the vaccination rate of city employees and an update on OSHA’s rulemaking following President Biden’s executive order regarding vaccination requirements for employers with more than 100 employees and discuss the potential effects if the city – as an employer – were to be included in the executive order.

As Wednesday night’s meeting was called to order, Mayor Tom Scribner reminded attendees of the requirement that masks must be worn inside city buildings and that anyone refusing to wear a mask must leave the meeting.

A woman then raised her voice demanding to know what authority Scribner had to require masks in the meeting. Other attendees began to yell too.

“She was asked to put on a mask and then asked to leave,” City Manager Nabiel Shawa said.

An on-duty police officer attempted to escort the woman out, but she refused.

“No attempts were made to physically remove anyone,” Shawa added.

Scribner, Shawa, City Attorney Timothy Donaldson, and the police officer then adjourned to discuss the situation in another room.

“The sergeant on duty last night advised the city manager and the city mayor that it would not be a good idea to forcefully remove the subject or arrest them over a mask,” WWPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Gunner Fulmer said.

The meeting ended after Scribner decided to adjourn the meeting. It has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. and will be held virtually via Zoom. Further details on the meeting, including the ID number to join have not been released yet.