CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Dozens of protestors say their constitutional rights were violated when they were asked to stand outside a Charleston City Council meeting. Charleston city leaders are requiring proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 tests to allow the public into meetings.

“The fact that they won’t let us in, that’s disturbing,” says Robert Atkinson, a retired veteran.

City leaders are now requiring a valid photo ID, proof of a Covid-19 vaccine or a negative test within the last 72 hours to be allowed inside. Protestors say this is unfair that these policies were announced only days before a city council meeting.

“I am unable to vaccinated and so is my wife due to a previous health complication so basically, we are being denied access,” says Atkinson.

City leaders say one of the reasons there are protocols being put in place is because 150 city employees are out with Covid-19 related issues. Some activists say these requirements are needed to keep people safe when attending meetings.

“It’s protecting the safety of city council members and the people who are attending the meeting. The virus has taken a new phase and has gotten very transmissible with this new variant,” says Marcus McDonald, the lead organizer for Charleston Black Lives Matter.

Those who see this requirement as unconstitutional say exceptions should be made for those who cannot receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

“That’s not why we all serve that’s not what this is about. Everybody should be able to participate, everybody should be able to listen respectfully, ask questions and I don’t see that happening,” says Atkinson.

During January the 11th meeting, city council voted unanimously to create the King Street Business Improvement District. It will provide $10 million to help businesses over the next decade.