Carlos Jimenez, Jr., activist and vice president of civil rights group Green Dreamz
About 30 protesters demanding social change marched to Columbia Borough Hall from Locust Street Park Tuesday night. Two participants from the group spoke at that evening's borough council meeting on the police budget and affordable housing.
Carlos Jimenez, Jr., vice president of civil rights group Green Dreamz and organizer of the protest, told council he wanted part of the police budget to be re-allocated to affordable housing and also asked that the current school resource officer be removed from his position with the school district.
Columbia School Board Director Robert Misciagna offered facts and figures on affordable housing and rents in the current economy.
Both speakers can be heard at the archived version of the meeting on the borough's Facebook page HERE - Jimenez at 21:39 and Misciagna at 24:05.
A counter-protestor shared his feelings.
Protesters were almost denied the right to speak at Tuesday night's Columbia Borough Council meeting. The main entrance door to borough hall was kept locked until shortly after 7 p.m., when about a dozen people were allowed in. By the time others got to the door, it was locked again. (Usually, the door is unlocked by 6:45 p.m.) A few minutes later, the borough manager opened the door again, but the meeting, which was 8 minutes late in starting, was already in progress, and the council president refused to allow participants access to the sign-up sheet for citizens' comments. After a brief discussion, two from the group were allowed to speak.
Six to eight Columbia Borough officers were visible during the protest, in Locust Street Park and downtown. A few days before the protest, Green Dreamz was reportedly threatened with arrest for trespassing if participants entered the park. However, a 2014 lease agreement between Columbia Borough and the Old Columbia Public Grounds Company (the owner) makes the park a "borough property" (i.e., public), according to the former borough solicitor and former borough manager. The term of the lease is 25 years. [Source: November 10, 2014 Columbia Borough Council meeting minutes]
The ever present drones that borough officials continually deny any knowledge of hovered overhead. (A command center had reportedly been set up in the Holy Trinity School parking lot.)