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Public comment at Lexington city council now means speaking-only

A speaker calls on the Lexington Urban County Council to declare its support for a ceasefire in Gaza.
A speaker calls on the Lexington Urban County Council to declare its support for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Lexington’s Urban Council recently approved new rules for citizens engaging in public comment during council meetings. The new language comes as council continues to be confronted by calls to issue a formal endorsement of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Anyone signed up during public comment can speak directly to city leaders, but going forward, multimedia presentations won’t be allowed — freeing up staff from having to vet content prior to meetings.

Adrian Bryant with CivicLex offered some context during a recent segment on WUKY.

"You have seen people in the past and in the recent past do something like play audio from their phone into the microphone or try to submit like a USB drive that has a video on it that they want to use... to show to council or do a PowerPoint presentation during that time," Bryant explained. "And so these council rules basically struck all of that."

While the new language deals only with types of presentations – not content – the policy comes as pro-Palestinian speakers have campaigned regularly during public comment and have pledged to continue pressing the council to take a stance on the war.

"My words are to be a reminder that you will keep seeing us until that call for a ceasefire is made," one speaker said at last week's Thursday meeting. "You will keep seeing us at your meetings."

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, director of the Chabad of the Bluegrass & the UK Jewish Student Center, also spoke at the same meeting.

"A ceasefire has been on the table, been advocated for by our president and by our Congress already, and it has been turned down by one party, which is Hamas," he said.

Going forward, if speakers wish to give extra materials to the council, they will need to place paper copies in a tray outside council chambers before the meeting, or email them.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.