Outburst brings second arrest in as many days at City Hall

For the second evening in a row, Lawrence police officers arrested a Lawrence man during a public meeting at City Hall after he made an outburst and disobeyed orders from police officers.

Mark Cline was handcuffed and carried out by his arms and legs from the City Commission meeting Tuesday night after he began making accusatory comments related to the Salvation Army. Cline – who previously has identified himself as homeless – has long accused the Salvation Army of being a homophobic organization, which it has denied.

When Cline began making those accusations during a public hearing regarding a site plan for a new Salvation Army shelter in East Lawrence, Mayor Mike Amyx asked him to stop or to direct his comments to the site plan. Cline refused, and Amyx recessed the meeting.

Cline continued speaking after commissioners left their seats. Cline eventually went back to his seat, where two Lawrence police officers who were at the meeting asked him to leave the premises.

He refused and then jumped over the front row of seats in the gallery and ran toward the commission dais. Officers then grabbed him, put him face down on the floor and handcuffed him.

Cline was arrested in a similar fashion Monday evening during a Traffic Safety Commission meeting regarding a cell phone ban. On Monday, he had an outburst while another individual was speaking and Cline began to move toward her in an aggressive manner.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Amyx said he felt he had little choice but to stop Cline’s comments.

“Some of the comments made were totally out of line,” Amyx said. “I’m not going to allow people to talk like that. We will conduct ourselves in a way to show respect.”

Cline’s arrest created one of the more unusual scenes at a City Commission meeting in years. When officers asked him to leave, he cited his rights under the Kansas Open Meeting law to be at the meeting.

But a police officer told him, “You have a right to be here, but you don’t have a right to be disruptive.”

When Cline jumped over the front row of the gallery and was restrained face down in the middle of the commission chambers, he began yelling: “Make a statement, make a statement. Who is asking me to leave?”

That led Commissioner Boog Highberger to say over the commission’s speaker system: “Calm down, Mark. Just calm down, and everything will be all right.

Cline was booked in Douglas County Jail on Tuesday night on criminal trespassing charges.