Charleston City Councilwoman Discusses New Ordinance Regarding Protesters Outside Health Clinics

Charleston City Councilwoman Discusses New Ordinance Regarding Protesters Outside Health Clinics


NOW BACK TO “INSIDE WEST VIRGINIA POLITICS” WITH MARK CURTIS. WELCOME BACK TO “INSIDE WEST VIRGINIA POLITICS.” ABORTION HAS RE-ENTERED THE SPOTLIGHT NATIONWIDE, AND THAT INCLUDES HERE IN CHARLESTON. SO THIS SEGMENT WE ARE BRINGING IN COUNCILWOMAN AT LARGE, KAITLIN COOK. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. THANKS FOR HAVING ME. THE BIG ISSUE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT IS THE NEW ORDINANCE THAT PUTS A BARRIER AROUND ABORTION CLINICS. TELL US ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE YOU ARE THE ONE WHO CREATED THAT ORDINANCE, CORRECT? SURE. SO HERE IN CHARLESTON OUR CHARLESTON POLICE OFFICERS, THEY HAVE BEEN RUNNING INTO ISSUES WHERE THEY WERE GETTING CALLS AT THE WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE FACILITY ON CHARLESTON’S WEST SIDE. THROUGH THOSE REPEATED CALLS WE WORKED WITH OUR POLICE FORCE, OUR POLICE CHIEF, CITY ATTORNEY, THE GOODWIN ADMINISTRATION, AND FAR AS WE’RE CONCERNED PUBLIC SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT. SO WE WANTED TO CRAFT AN ORDINANCE THAT WAS BOTH CONSTITUTIONAL, COULD BE UPHELD IN COURT, AND ONE THAT PROTECTED PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE, SO THAT’S WHAT WE DID. THAT’S BEEN ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES, PEOPLE BELIEVE IT’S A FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATION. YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT? MY RESPONSE IS I LOVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT. MY RESPONSE IS WE’VE GOT A CITY ATTORNEY WHO TAKES CRAFTING LEGISLATION BILLS, ORDINANCES IN A CONSTITUTIONAL MANNER VERY SERIOUSLY. AGAIN, THIS ORDINANCE IS BASED OFF A COLORADO LAW THAT HAS BEEN TESTED, IT WAS UPHELDABLY THE HIGHEST COURT IN THIS LAND IN 2000, SO WE FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT THAT. THIS ORDINANCE IS IN EFFECT NOW, CORRECT? CORRECT. HAVE YOU HAD ANY BACKLASH FROM IT, OR ANY POSITIVE THINGS SINCE IT HAS GONE INTO EFFECT? I CANNOT SPEAK FOR THE POLICE, SPEAK FOR THE WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTER. I’M DOING MY DUE DILIGENCE TRYING TO DRIVE BY EVERY DAY. WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS CHARLESTON POLICE HAVE BEEN OUT THERE DOING EDUCATION PROCESS, BEFORE THE ORDINANCE TOOK EFFECT AFTER IT WAS PASSED AND NOW TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE EDUCATED ON WHAT THIS MEANS. THEY ARE EDUCATED ON THEIR RIGHTS, WHAT THEY STILL CAN DO, BECAUSE NO ONE’S FIRST AMENDMENT ARE RESTRICTED HERE, PEOPLE CAN STILL PROTEST WITHIN 100 FEET OF THE FACILITY, AGAIN IT’S JUST FOR SAFETY. RIGHT NOW THE PORSES ARE OUR POLICE OFFICERS ARE GETTING OUT THERE AND ENGAGING WITH THE COMMUNITY, LETTING THEM KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THEM AND HOW THEY CAN STILL EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS AND GET THEIR HEALTH CARE SAFELY. DO YOU BELIEVE THE COURT WILL HAVE THE FINAL SAY IN THIS? I DON’T KNOW, I’M NOT AN ATTORNEY. I IMAGINE IT WILL BE CHALLENGED, BUT AGAIN I FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT. ABORTION HAS BECOME A NATIONWIDE ISSUE. YOUR THOUGHTS ON, A BIG PORTION OF THE COUNTRY GOING AGAINST ABORTION. HERE IN CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA, A VERY SPREAD STATE, WE’RE PUTTING IN PROTECTIONS FOR THESE CLINICS. WE CAN’T MAKE POLICY DECISIONS BASED ON WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT MAP. WHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT CHARLESTON POLICE CAME TO US WITH A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE. WHAT I DO KNOW IS THIS IS THE BEST WAY FOR US TO MOVE FORWARD TO PROTECT FOLKS, THEIR ENTRY AND EXIT TO RECEIVE HEALTH CARE. AND FOLKS PROTESTING THEIR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS WELL AS THEIR SAFETY. THIS HAS KIND OF BEEN MADE INTO AN ABORTION ISSUE, BUT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S MORE OF A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE, AND THAT’S HOW YOU APPROACHED IT. MOST CERTAINLY. HERE ON THE MUNICIPAL LEVEL THOSE AREN’T DECISIONS THAT WE MAKE. BUT WHEN CHARLESTON POLICE OFFICERS COME TO US AND ASK US FOR MORE RESOURCES, MORE TOOLS TO DO THEIR JOB, FOR US ON THE CITY LEVEL, ONE OF THE THINGS WE’RE WORKING TO DO EVERY DAY VERY DILIGENTLY IS ENSURE THAT CHARLESTON IS A SAFE CITY FOR EVERYBODY THAT’S HERE THAT’S A CITY THAT YOU WANT TO RAISE A FAMILY IN. AND PART OF THAT IS MAKING SURE THE POLICE HAVE THE TOOLS THEY NEED, AND THIS IS PART OF IT SO WE DID IT. OBVIOUSLY THIS IS JUST ONE THING THE CITY COUNCIL IS WORKING ON. ANYTHING ELSE THAT THE PEOPLE OF CHARLESTON OR THE PEOPLE OF WEST VIRGINIA SHOULD KNOW THAT YOU GUYS ARE WORKING ON? I WOULD SAY IT’S AN EXCITING TIME TO BE IN CHARLESTON, WE’VE GOT EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP. I’M QUITE FOND OF OUR PARKS AND REC DEPARTMENT, WE HAVE SOME FREE CAMPS COMING UP, LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING EVERYBODY INVOLVED IN THAT. THANK YOU SO MUCH, KAITLIN COOK, COUNCILWOMAN AT LARGE, THANKS FOR BEING HERE. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. WE’LL HAVE MORE “INSIDE WEST VIRGINIA POLITICS” COMING UP.

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