A meeting called to discuss a proposal that would see a ban imposed on the sale of tobacco in a small US town was ended prematurely after shouting broke out over a no-clapping rule, according to a story by George Barnes for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
If the proposal is accepted, Westminster (population 7,277 in 2010 according to Wikipedia), in Worcester County, Massachusetts, would become the first community in the US to ban all tobacco sales.
The list of banned items would include cigarettes, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Barnes reported that at the start of the meeting the Board of Health chairperson, Andrea Crete, had laid down rules that had included treating people with respect and banning clapping for speakers.
Even so, one person had been removed before the meeting started, and Crete warned that others would be removed if they were disrespectful.
After a few people spoke and clapping occurred, the participants were warned. Crete warned those attending again after a few more spoke.
Then shouting broke out over her warning and she took action. “This hearing is ended,” she said, and the crowd erupted, with one man shouting over and over, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
Some people began singing ‘God Bless America’.
Police escorted Crete and other Board of Health members out of the building, but not before she told reporters she was disappointed at having to end the hearing.
The hearing drew dozens of national and regional media representatives, including a news team from Norway.