A 35-year-old Queens County woman has been charged with causing a disturbance after an incident unfolded during Monday night's regular public monthly meeting of Charlottetown city council.
The woman was with a group calling itself Extinction Rebellion which showed up just as the meeting was getting underway.
Another one of the group's members identified the woman as Daphnée Azoulay, who walked inside the gate at council chambers, restricted to councillors only, and was prepared to unfurl a banner that read "Declare a Climate Emergency", a protest over climate change.
It soon became apparent what was happening.
Peter Kelly, the city’s chief administrative officer, approached Azoulay and asked her to move back and sit in the public gallery. She refused.
Kelly then asked for assistance from Brad MacConnell, deputy chief of police with Charlottetown Police Services, who regularly attends the regular monthly meetings.
MacConnell also asked the woman to take a seat in the public gallery. MacConnell calmly talked to the woman over the next few minutes, repeating his request that she move back to the public gallery. She consistently refused.
MacConnell then called for an additional police officer to head to City Hall.
When MacConnell and the police officer began to move the woman, a struggle ensued and she was placed in handcuffs and arrested. On her way out of council chambers she appeared to kick at the officers.
“We offered for her to remain at the meeting and to sit in the gallery like everyone else but she chose not to,’’ MacConnell said following the council meeting. “It’s just unfortunate that she couldn’t abide by the simple rules that exist in the council meetings.’’
David Woodbury, another one of the protesters, said they’re attempting to get governments “off their duff’’ on climate change.
“We were hoping to press the council to declare a climate emergency which has been done in many cities across Canada and around the world,’’ Woodbury said. “We were not intending to make a disturbance or be a problem. (We just wanted) to hold up a sign.’’
Woodbury said his group often attempts non-violent direct action or non-violent civil disobedience to get its message across.
MacConnell said he’s witnessed peaceful protests at council before but he can’t recall ever having to arrest someone.
“I think it was obvious to everyone involved it was an attempt to provoke a confrontation,’’ the deputy chief said. “We tried to be respectful to her and not make a spectacle of what is an important issue.
“Climate change is an important issue. I speak personally when I say ... disruptions like this take away from the legitimacy of a very important cause.’’
Azoulay will appear in provincial court on April 18.