Albany, NY – A New York State Senate employee who helped found upstate New York’s Black Lives Matter chapter has been fired after she allegedly played a role in the release of hundreds of cockroaches inside Albany City Criminal Court while a hearing was underway on June 7.
Clyanna Lightbourn, a now-former New York State Democratic Conference Services external relations coordinator, was allegedly involved in the release of the insects during an arraignment hearing at the courthouse on Morton Avenue, WRGB reported.
She and other demonstrators pushing for an anti-eviction bill began protesting inside the courtroom and Lightbourn allegedly got into a physical altercation with security personnel after she began recording the scene with her cell phone, according to The Washington Times.
Any recording inside the courtroom must be pre-approved by a judge, the Times Union reported.
During the mayhem, hundreds of cockroaches that had been smuggled into the courtroom in plastic containers were released by the mob.
Lightbourn, 34, was subsequently arrested on charges of tampering with physical evidence, obstruction of governmental administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, The Post Millennial reported.
She declined to respond to the Times Union’s request for comment last week.
Additional arrests may be forthcoming.
The New York State Senate confirmed Lightbourn was fired after the incident, according to WRGB.
Our Statewide Civil Rights Organizer Clyanna Lightbourn, and Citizen Action endorsed candidate for Albany County District Attorney Matt Toporowski, facilitated an informative discussion on #BailReform at this morning’s Power Breakfast in Troy, NY! #JusticeNotFear pic.twitter.com/p78iiN9suB
— Citizen Action of NY (@citizenactionny) February 11, 2020
The courthouse was shut down for the rest of the day while a crew of exterminators handled the cockroach infestation, the Times Union reported.
Office of Court Administration Spokesperson Lucian Chalfen released a statement denouncing the incident.
“What transpired is not advocacy or activism, it is criminal behavior with the intent to disrupt a proceeding and cause damage,” Chalfen said, according to the Times Union.
He noted that prosecutors will seek restitution for the cost of the cleanup.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for these actions,” Chalfen said.
The Albany County District Attorney’s Office emphasized that although the right to protest is protected, the office “oppose[s] the disruption of court proceedings” as well as the “apparent display of disrespect shown to the court,” the Times Union reported.
Lightbourn’s next court hearing has been scheduled for July 5, according to WRGB.