by: Tony Thomas Updated:EAST POINT, Ga.,None —
An informational meeting in East Point about plans to raise property taxes was cut short after shouting matches and an arrest.
Mayor Earnestine Pittman wants to lower the city's utility rates, but said property taxes need to increase in order to make up the difference.
Some residents oppose the measure and got angry as the mayor laid out her plan Thursday evening. One man began yelling at the mayor from the podium, and police officers rushed to him. The man dared officers, saying, "Touch me. Touch me."
When officers tried to pull the man’s hands behind his back, he escaped their grasp and darted toward the mayor. Other officers cut him off and arrested him on disorderly conduct charges as some in the crowd chanted, "Take him out. Take him out."
Things got heated again later, as real estate agent Dustin Drabot yelled at another audience member.
"Turn down the thermostat. Stop taking three-hour showers. You can control your utility rates. You can't control the tax rate. Sit down and listen," Drabot said.
After that, Sallie McKinley, a supporter of the mayor, began yelling back. But the mayor had had enough and cut the meeting short. Some, though, continued arguing outside.
"Nobody is going to tell me what to do, and we need to get rid of some of these people that don’t want to do anything and keep things the same old way," McKinley told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas.
"A lot of what's being said in there is just spin and the numbers don't support it, those were fake numbers," Drabot countered as he left.
Pittman said she has the votes to approve her plan at the council’s next meeting Monday night. She insists she wasn't worried when she saw the man coming at her.
"That was all for show. That was definitely all for show," she said. "I was not going to stand there and be disrespected, manipulated, trying to have a point proven. I'm not a puppeteer here to jump through hoops."