LGBTQ activist arrested, removed from Lafayette library meeting about banning books

Matthew Humphrey, president of LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Lafayette, called a press conference Thursday after speaking with the parents of 18-year-old Holden White, who was attacked in what his advocates argue was an anti-gay hate crime Saturday night. Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrested activist Matthew Humphrey at a four-hour meeting of the Library Board of Control on Monday.

Humphrey is a well-known LGBTQ+ activist who helps organize Pride events each year and regularly attends public meetings when LGBTQ+ subjects are being debated.

Members of the community have a right to attend public meetings, like the library board's Monday gathering, though there are not restrictions on removing people who "willfully disrupt a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised."

Board President Robert Judge struggled frequently to deal with interruptions from the approximately 50-person crowd during Monday’s meeting when the crowd jeered at statements he made.

Past coverage: Lafayette library board OKs Sunday closures to pay for new Northeast branch

Humphrey’s arrest came more than two hours into the meeting as conservative blogger Michael Lunsford stood to speak about "The V-Word" by Amber J. Keyser, a book he sought to remove from the library’s collection over sexual content.

The board later voted to change how challenges to content in the library are handled, giving the power to themselves as political appointees to remove books and other content.

Judge previously threatened to have Humphrey removed during the board’s discussion of plans for a new northeast regional library location, during which Humphrey called Judge’s defense of leasing a building instead of building a new facility “disingenuous.”

That confrontation led to an impromptu recess after a deputy tried to remove Humphrey for interrupting but backed down when Humphrey insisted he would not leave without being arrested.

Banned books: Attempt to remove LGBTQ book fails as library remains culture war battleground

Judge then met in a side room with the deputy, Library Director Danny Gillane and attorney Mike Hebert before continuing the meeting without incident until he called a formal recess to speak with the deputy and his shift supervisor.

When the meeting resumed shortly afterward, Humphrey was arrested after interrupting while Lunsford stood up to speak.

He was removed and arrested without incident. LPSO spokesperson Valerie Ponsetti said he was cited with disturbing the peace.

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This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LGBTQ activist arrested at Lafayette library meeting on book banning