An Albany, New York, courthouse was closed Tuesday for fumigation after hundreds of cockroaches were released during an arraignment.
During the arraignment of four activists who had been arrested for protesting in support of an anti-eviction bill, audience members began protesting inside the courtroom. Clyanna Lightbourn, one of the defendants, began filming the disruption. According to multiple sources, she attempted to get her phone back after authorities confiscated it and was subsequently arrested. During the struggle, hundreds of cockroaches were released into the courtroom.
The cockroaches were stored in concealed plastic containers and smuggled into the courthouse, according to the state court system.
Albany police charged Ms. Lightbourn, 34, with obstruction of governmental administration, tampering with physical evidence, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. She was not immediately identified as the person who released the cockroaches.
A spokesperson for the Albany Office of Court Administration, Lucian Chalfen, provided photos of the large cockroaches crawling on the floor of the courthouse.
“What transpired is not advocacy or activism, it is criminal behavior with the intent to disrupt a proceeding and cause damage,” Mr. Chalfen said in a statement.
The court added that the prosecution will be seeking restitution for the cost of Tuesday’s fumigation.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for these actions.” Mr. Chalfen said.
Until Tuesday Ms. Lightbourn worked for the New York Senate Democratic Conference Services Office. She has a history of activism, particularly speaking out against the killing of unarmed Black people.
Court proceedings were moved online and the building was closed for the fumigation.
“While the incident remains under investigation, the Office of the District Attorney would like to emphasize that while the right to protest is protected, we oppose the disruption of court proceedings, and the apparent display of disrespect shown to the court,” a statement from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office read.
• Vaughn Cockayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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