published Friday, January 13th, 2012

What county protest 'rules'?

Hamilton County commissioners' displeasure with the Occupy Chattanooga protesters' around-the-clock camp-out on the lawn of the County Courthouse has been apparent for some time. Though their actions have been more measured, and more careful to avoid the use of force seen elsewhere against the Occupy movement, they now seem determined to end the camp-out.

They recently circumvented the Sunshine Law by taking an apparently illegal private meeting with County Attorney Rheubin Taylor to discuss their legal options. There was no legitimate reason to invoke the law's confidentiality clause for a private meeting with the attorney for commissioners to discuss what amounts to a public policy issue -- the correctness and method of their goal to eject the protesters' from their campsite, and thus restrict the form of their protest.

Then they drew up a list of rules that they now claim have been somehow honored and observed through "tradition" for decades, and that they say the protesters are now violating. And now they've gone to federal court to seek a judge's declaration that their planned ejection of the Occupy protesters under those newly contrived rules is legal under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Their method for all this, of course, has the texture of a shameless sham prompted by their intolerance of an exceedingly peaceful, orderly and worthy protest in behalf of economic justice for the broad class of working Americans. There's ample reason to doubt that a federal judge would sanction their intention to create and use post-facto rules to eject the Occupy protesters.

The protesters' mission may be fruitlessly idealistic and their numbers relatively small, but their cause is as valid a political protest in the interest of 99 percent of Americans as any we have seen in many years.

The Occupy protesters' First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of their political grievances has been widely acknowledged as a protected First Amendment privilege. Gov. Haslam discovered that when he approved the product of a late night meeting to create a set of rules governing 24/7 use of the Legislative Plaza in Nashville that could used to end an Occupy protest that had been going for days.

Haslam ordered in a platoon of state troopers who roughly treated, arrested and jailed the protesters, who represented a range of ages and profession. Troopers pushed the orderly, non-violent protesters to the ground in the middle of a cold night and tightly bound their hands behind their backs with cutting plastic ties. Several journalists were arrested and given the same rough treatment, as well. One photographer's valuable equipment was tossed away, along with the protesters' personal possessions, sleeping bags and clothes.

Lawyers representing the group went to federal court and quickly won an injunction against the state's interruption and use of force under newly contrived rules against the Occupy protest. The circumstances of the protest here may vary somewhat. But the court house has indeed been the scene of large protests over the years. Overflowing crowds of teachers and citizens have organized and gathered at the courthouse from time to time to express their political views and advocate for or against tax measures.

The history of political protests may not previously have used a camp-out as part of the protest, but we've never heard of an informal, traditional rule that such a protest, with tents and sleeping bags and coolers, was or had ever been prohibited. As a matter of First Amendment principle, the county's new rules should have to wait until the Occupy protest voluntarily dissolves before they may be used.

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librul said...
  1. List item

Thank you. A welcome affirmation of first amendment rights in stark contrast to the tripe on the other page.

January 13, 2012 at 7:45 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Thank you. Excellent!

January 13, 2012 at 9:13 a.m.
timbo said...

Librul....Are really that stupid?

Two things are wrong with this editorial:

First, Harry Austin and his limousine liberal pals are using you Occupy people to embarrass the county commission. Harry and his handlers are 1/2 of the 1%. They are the elitist, democrat, national socialist class that is just using to as dupes. Look around you on the courthouse lawn. Do you see Austin, Littlefield, Siskin, Lebowitz, Holmberg.... Of course you don't. They are just using you to bash the other side of the power structure.

The proof...find one time that Harry Austin has not supported the power structure. His latest support of Littlefield against the recall was almost bizarre. A lot of your supporters were involved with the recall. What could be more "99%" than a recall of a corrupt politician? He has supported crony capitalism time after time with VW, downtown development, etc. defending the government giving millions and millions of the "99%" tax dollars to people who are connected with the Lookout Mountain Mafia (power stucture). They think you people are stupid.

There is no "99%" in this country. Their are several percents. There is about "50%" of the lower middle class and poor that don't pay any taxes. There is another 30% or so of the middle class that get's nothing, there is the next 10% which is small business that get taken to the cleaners with taxes, then 9% of the new rich that create jobs, and then the inherited money, old rich, who suck off the other percents.

Harry Austin is the hand maiden and propaganda minister for 1/2 of that 1 %. Stop being used by these people. Go home.

January 13, 2012 at 9:18 a.m.
librul said...

Timbo, you write that and pose questions about stupidity? Meh.

January 13, 2012 at 9:34 a.m.
timbo said...

Librul... you just haven't been around long enough to know what goes on in this county. I have been fighting these guys for 15 years. I think the thing we can all agree on is that we want honest government. We don't have that. Austin and his handlers are just as evil as the Republican side. They want money and power period. I don't have a problem with you criticizing the Republican establishment. My problem is you give the other side a pass because they tell you what you want to hear. Stop drinking the blue Kool-Aid and wake up. You don't have to drink the red Kool-Aid either.

By the way, you couldn't refute anything I said so you wrote that childish response. "I'm not stupid but what are you?" Sounds like Pee Wee Herman. Grow up.

January 13, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

Stop trying to make things about more than they are.

This is why the Occupy movement doesn't try to set goals or draw up a plan. Why they don't try to have leaders or figureheads.

It just leads to division.

What they're doing to suppress this protest is wrong, by the pattern of it, no more, no less.

Get back to me when the County Commission starts doing something against their own interests. Then I'll know they're doing the right thing.

January 13, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
timbo said...

happywithnewbulbs......I say hogwash. I am tired of you being on MY lawn. That's right, it is everyone's lawn not just a small group of so-called protesters. What if I went down there right now with 10-20 of my friends and decided that we wanted that space for our own protest against out lawn being crapped on by you occupiers. We could just throw your tents out of the way and put in our own crap.

Your type of "protest" is similar to a union picketing a factory. Political protests can't be tolerated if it is infringing on someone else's rights. Although unions have the right to picket, they don't have the right to camp or obstruct access.

The county commission has shown you respect and patience. The commission's going to court is wimpy but it is another sign that they want this to end without someone going to jail. I would have run your asses off like they did in New York a long time ago.

This is not about free speech. It is about a small group of people monopolizing speech on the count courthouse lawn. It is forcing your opinion on the rest of us using land that is collectively owned by the tax payer. You've made whatever weak point you were trying to make. Go home.

January 13, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.

I'd suggest you work out an arrangement to share then, not unitarily assert a personal authority through the exercise of violent force. The group in the county courthouse lawn was quite willing to accommodate some folks having a wedding. I'm sure if you asked for help setting up your tents, or to share theirs instead of aggressively trying to tear others down, you'd get help. But it seems you're just concerned about trashing others in order to make some statement of pique. Why is that? Do you think you'll show them they're doing wrong?

You won't. You'll show them they're doing the right thing by your own conduct. If anything, in the state of Tennessee, it'd justify the exercise of force against you, because well, that is enshrined in the state constitution.

But this is indeed not about free speech. Nobody in the Occupy movement is stopping your speech. You'd be quite welcome on the lawn, saying what you like. It's about the misuse of power, as this is about the county commission acting to exert tyranny over others, to suppress dissent, not because of their professed reasons, but because they want the opposition to be silenced. Such an action shows the commission for what they are, and the more they push, the more they lose credibility.

If you were really concerned, or if the county commission was, they'd have acted before this came up. You didn't. They didn't. Instead we have reactionary approaches to things you oppose. That puts a cloud of doubt over your actions.

If you want to demonstrate something genuine in the way of behavior, again, do what I said, and try voting against your own interests.

When you're just acting to get rid of people you don't like, it makes you suspect though.

And acting under suspect premises is rarely wise.

Try not doing it.

January 13, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

BTW, something I find especially ironic is the people who named themselves as a group after the commission of an act of vandalism and property destruction suddenly finding it anathema that people are standing in a public space.

Then again, I shouldn't be surprised, since that's a long held practice of political parties and Emperors.

January 13, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
joneses said...

I dare you OWS people complain about freedom of speech when all across the country when a Republican candidate or anyone with an opposing view speaks you show up to drown them out with you obnoxious rants. You are nothing but a bunch of hypocrits.

January 13, 2012 at 9:58 p.m.

Drowning them out? Since when? There's been no shortage of opportunities for the Republican presidential candidates to speak, and no shortage of money to fund coverage.

For a group that's been silenced, they've sure managed quite a clamor.

However, are you saying we should be silent when we disagree with them, that we should not have any an opportunity to respond? That seems a bit excessive.

January 13, 2012 at 10:10 p.m.
joneses said...

Hey happywithbeingahypocrit,

Read this. I can post all the examples you want. No one said there has been a shortage of Republican presidential cadidates speaking. That is not the point I was making. If anyone is violating anyones free speech rights it is the ows hypocrits. Can you give me one example where the Tea Party is trying to drown out an Obama speech or a democrat speech? I do not think you can.

December 22, 2011 8:17 PM Occupy hecklers drown out Bachmann at Iowa diner

(AP) IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Hamburg Inn in Iowa City has long been a popular stop for presidential candidates, but it probably won't be high on Rep. Michele Bachmann's list anymore.

About two dozen activists with Occupy Iowa City packed the diner before Bachmann arrived Thursday, then loudly chanted in unison as she tried to mingle with supporters. Their chant blasted the Minnesota congresswoman's position on gay rights, health care and taxes and ended with: "You're not wanted here. So go, just go."

Police arrived as tensions rose, but no one was arrested.

Bachmann seemed undeterred. Before leaving, she thanked the owner, praised the food and said it was great to be in Iowa City.

January 13, 2012 at 10:54 p.m.

You said drowning them out, that requires substantially more than just splashing back.

But I'm sure if you ask Jon Stewart, he can provide you with a number of videos.

I do have a question for you, did you know that OWS also heckled President Obama? It's true.

My word, it's like they're willing to be against both sides!

Though if you watched the Republican debates, you might have seen some shouting down from the candidates there. I remember a few with Ron Paul, but there was also the homosexual soldier and even Rick Perry on immigration.

January 13, 2012 at 11:21 p.m.
joneses said...

The liberal media, cbs, abc, nbc, cnn, new york times, msnbc and others will never show anyone saying anything against obama. So no I did not see the ows shouting down obama. Please enlighten me with where and when.

January 13, 2012 at 11:45 p.m.

Hmm, I guess you missed the Republican primary debates carried on national television where anti-Obama was the theme of the day. And I suppose you believe their coverage of the birther movement was actually a distraction from real criticism.

But hey, you keep railing against the liberal media, it just means you are more concerned with lashing out at others yourself.

Btw, I saw it covered onABC news.

January 14, 2012 at 1:30 a.m.
joneses said...

And you keep camping on the court house lawn and trashing it while you freeze your ass off. Actually I think it best you ows people keep doing what you are doing as you are angering more people everyday with your socialist/communist, entitlement minded agenda. You are confirming to us hard working people the agenda we always thought you liberals have. Thank you very much for the confirmation.

January 14, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.

Well, you may think it's futile, but you're certainly paying attention to it.

You may think it's angering people. I think it's getting more of them to open their eyes to what's going on.

Not surprised at all that you decide to go with the response you've chosen. It's a common defensive reaction to criticism. So all you've confirmed is that your ego is tied up in supporting the system, to the point where you are degrading others who you don't personally know or have any experience with.

Exactly what do you think your words mean to me? They only convince me that what the Occupy movement is doing is the right thing, as the more you express such sentiments, the more you destroy yourself.

January 14, 2012 at 6:39 p.m.
joneses said...


You are not changing anything with being envious and wanting to destroy what others have. I am only paying attention to how stupid you and your fellow ows puppets appear. I have met not one person, and I get around, that supports what you are doing. Of course the people I am around choose to make a living by working versus whining about people having more than they do like you. You are living a lie thinking that if you destroy the 1% the 99% will be better off. What will happen is another 1% will be created. You have accomplished nothing. There are people that have risked their lives getting to America for the opportunities that exist and they choose to work hard and actually most do quite well. All you and your fellow whiners are playing is victim and the truth is you are a victim of your own laziness.

January 16, 2012 at 4:55 p.m.
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