Rev. Barber, Mr. Tyson, Ms. Petty along with the others from outside Wake County who were arrested for disrupting and refusing to leave a School Board meeting should be ready to accept the consequences of their actions. A simple slap on the wrist, as suggested by some, is far from appropriate.
During the past two years, the School Board tolerated a variety of disruptions at the public meetings, from cheering and jeering to shouting and verbal attacks. Some participants simply refused to maintain civility and adhere to proper decorum. While rude and disrespectful, this sort of behavior did not result in arrests.
The actions of Barber, Tyson, Petty and the others were not simple acts of civil disobedience or disruption. These individuals shut down the public’s business, refused to leave the podium, used offensive language, and ultimately crossed security barriers to physically take over the seats of the elected School Board members. The safety of the Board as well as those in the audience was threatened. The extreme and intimidating tactics of Rev. Barber and his cohorts deliberately created chaos and fear. Behavior of this magnitude is unacceptable in any public meeting.
Mediation may be appropriate for some misdemeanor charges. Leniency, however, for the sort of reprehensible behavior displayed by Barber, only serves to set the stage for future disruptions. Let the punishment fit the crime.