Crime

Should Sighing and Eye-Rolling Be Against the Law?

| by Reason Foundation

By Radley Balko

Ah, the petty tyranny of power-tripping officials in small towns:

Elmhurst officials are considering creating a "disturbance and disorderly conduct" violation after a resident accused of rolling her eyes and sighing was ejected from a public meeting.

City Attorney Don Storino has been directed by the city’s finance and council affairs committee to look at various sources including “Robert’s Rules of Order,” Illinois state statutes and policies adopted by other municipalities for a legal definition of disorderly conduct and disruptive behavior.  

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He is expected to report his findings to the committee on July 26.

Ald. Stephen Hipskind said Darlene Heslop rolled her eyes and sighed while attending a June 14 committee meeting. Heslop, who was asked to leave the meeting, said she favors adding a definition of disorderly conduct to the municipal code.  

“I’d like for them (city officials) to have a better understanding of the open meetings act and its meaning and to understand what disorderly conduct is,” she said.

Under state law, disorderly conduct is “an act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another, or to provoke a breach of the peace.”  

Heslop, who was asked to leave the meeting during discussion of a proposal for the city to hire a state lobbyist, which she opposes, said she hopes adding the definition will help city officials better understand “what the public is entitled to” when attending a city meeting or conducting city business.