ACLU Says Reporters Barred From Pocomoke Council Meeting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

ACLU Says Reporters Barred From Pocomoke Council Meeting

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

POCOMOKE CITY, Md. (AP/WBOC)- The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says reporters were illegally barred from a Pocomoke City council meeting during which the recent firing of the city's police chief was discussed.
    
In a complaint filed Friday with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board, the ACLU says city officials violated both the state's Open Meetings Act and the First Amendment in excluding reporters from the meeting.

"The Pocomoke City Council is undeniably a public body under the OPA, and the Act defines 'open session' to mean open to all meaning both the public and the press," the complaint says. "Not only is this true under the Open Meetings Act, it is true under the U.S. Constitution: The First Amendment guarantees that the press and the public enjoy equal access to government information and proceedings, including Town Council meetings, making it unconstitutional for the government to bar reporters from meetings open to the public at large."
    
Pocomoke City's attorney says he is not aware of any instructions given to police to bar reporters from the crowded July 13 meeting.
    
Former chief Kelvin Sewell, who is black, says he was fired for refusing to terminate two other black officers who, like Sewell, have filed job discrimination complaints.
    
City officials emphatically deny that Sewell was ousted because he refused to fire the two officers.

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