People in South Fulton say city’s decision to disable meeting chat is silencing their voices

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — Some local city council members decided to get rid of a popular livestream chat during their meetings.

The City of South Fulton said they did it to cut down on misinformation, but people who live there told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that they feel like their voices are being silenced.

Robert Dawson is one of the South Fulton citizens who believes it is wrong to disable the YouTube livestream chat during council meetings.

“This is another method we can use to keep the conversation going, keep the dialogue going during the pandemic,” Dawson said. “Let’s have this dialogue.”

At least three city council members have responded to citizens in the chat during meetings.

Marcus Coleman said Councilwoman Helen Willis did not like what the public was saying about her and would yell at them during meetings.

“That would be as if they were on the bench in person and having sidebars with folks in the audience,” Coleman said.

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Willis would not comment on getting rid of the chat, but the entire council said in a statement:

“Council members feel the chat is a distraction from this pursuit, in that it allows individuals to make disparaging comments & purposely post inaccurate information, while remaining anonymous & free from accountability.”

“Don’t silence the voters, change your behavior,” said Reshard Snellings.

He told Fernandes that the council is only doing this because they cannot take criticism.

“They’re wasting our money; they’re trying to silence our voices. Residents feel as though their constitutional rights have been violated,” Snellings said.

The public can submit written comments using the official online comment form, but some people still think the chat should exist.

“I’m appalled at the fact that we’re being silenced as if we were back in the ‘50s,” Joyce Jones said.

The city of South Fulton mayor has called an emergency meeting to discuss a few things, including chat issues.

Many of the citizens said they will attend the meeting either in person at City Hall or virtually.

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