published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Welcome removal of tents from Occupy Chattanooga site on courthouse lawn

  • photo
    Hamilton County Sheriff's and Chattanooga Parks & Recreation employees relocate the last Occupy Chattanooga tent from the Chattanooga Courthouse grounds to the sidewalk Monday afternoon.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

After so-called “Occupy Chattanooga” protests did costly damage to the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse over a period of more than four months, the county finally had more than a dozen protesters’ tents and belongings removed Monday to a nearby sidewalk.

It was overdue.

Grass has been damaged on the lawn, which was never intended as a campground. Mud has taken the place of the grass in some areas.

“You’re probably talking about in the thousands-of-dollars range to redo it all and get it back like it used to be,” Commissioner Chester Bankston told the Free Press editorial page in January.

“Occupy” protesters around the country portray their removal as a violation of First Amendment rights. But the First Amendment has never been an absolute right. Reasonable time, place and manner restrictions have routinely been placed on the right to assemble.

There is nothing reasonable about commandeering public space through “occupation.” If anything, the county was amazingly patient through the tiresome, extended encampment on the courthouse lawn. Many other cities around the country evicted their “Occupy” protesters from public property far sooner.

“I think we’ve been very lenient here in Hamilton County,” said Commission Chairman Larry Henry. “They’ve been on our county property for five months.”

There is nothing to stop the protesters from continuing their vague “anti-greed” demonstrations at locations throughout the county, but expecting them to do so in ways that do not burden taxpayers is more than fair.

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nucanuck said...

The "occupy" movements, like the Tea Party, are peaceful signs of deep discontent within our country. The thirty year debt binge, the jobs destroyed by so called globalization, the crony capitalism, a government that no longer tells us the truth...these and more have created a deteriorating social mood that is tearing the nation apart.

Most of us can't readily identify with these groups and yet we feel that they represent a simmering anger that, if not addressed, might grow into something less peaceful. Where are our wise men, our statesmen who can speak truth and lead us to a better place?

March 21, 2012 at 12:56 a.m.
joneses said...

What is taring this country apart is this pathetic fool the liberals elected as their anointed one continuing to create, division, hatred and intolerance against people in different income brackets, races, sexual preferences, and hatred towards certain corporations that create the jobs we need as a country. Obama is the most unhealthy president this country has ever had. Although Jimmy Carters liberal policies were also a complete failure he did not promote hatred and intolerance among different groups of Americans. Vote this fool out of office so we can restore peace in America!

March 21, 2012 at 5:22 a.m.
Exusiai said...

What is interesting to note is that no human rights document, nor does the United States Constitution grant us as citizens the "right to protest". This is a percieved right of freedom of assembly/speech.

Nor does the 1st amendment grant people the right to camp out on government property for five months.

Personally I'm glad that the city finally moved in an evicted them. Then needed to go months ago.

March 21, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.
acerigger said...

March 20, 2012

Local Government Drops Lawsuit Against Occupy Chattanooga

County Voluntarily Withdraws Suit After Public Citizen Moved To Dismiss

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Hamilton County government this week has voluntarily dismissed its own lawsuit against Occupy Chattanooga and nine individuals. Public Citizen and Chattanooga attorney David C. Veazey represented the defendants.

The lawsuit sought both a declaratory judgment about the validity of a county anti-demonstration ordinance and an award of court costs against Occupy Chattanooga and the individuals. The defendants had moved to dismiss the case, arguing that a local government cannot sue its citizens to get a court ruling that its own law is constitutional and then force the individuals to pay the county’s litigation costs.

Why is this not printed in TFP?

March 21, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

As an avid supporter of the OWS movement from its inception, I have to say that I've never really understood what the slowly emerging outcrop of these tent cities was ever really meant to accomplish. While I rather admired the die-hard protesters' never-give-up attitude, I have to admit that their permanent camp sites have had me scratching my head wondering what they were hoping to accomplish.

Having said that, it is my fervent hope that the OWS movement redirects itself soon in a more focused manner and doesn't give up drawing attention to just how badly the middle class is getting screwed by this plutocracy of a government that we like to delude ourselves into calling a democracy

March 21, 2012 at 3:32 p.m.

Rickaroo, getting people to notice them. The same for any such public demonstration.

People are way too easily able to dismiss and ignore the threats that come up at them.

March 21, 2012 at 7:32 p.m.
shifarobe said...

Man, are you kidding me! Don't even equate the Tea Party with those fleabaggers of OWS. The Tea Party consists of tax paying, working, responsible citizens who are sick and tired of irresponible and corrupt Government. The OWS bunch consists for the most part of leeches, pervs, druggies, the lazy and some that just want to crap and pee in the street so they can chuckle about it. PLLLLEEEEAAASSE!

March 21, 2012 at 8:34 p.m.
acerigger said...

shifarobe,so,you've been out there amongst the fleabaggers of OWS?


March 21, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.
Dumbledore403 said...

Let me quote something from the editorial here: “Occupy” protesters around the country portray their removal as a violation of First Amendment rights. But the First Amendment has never been an absolute right. Reasonable time, place and manner restrictions have routinely been placed on the right to assemble. Let me repeat what is being said here...that the First Amendment is not an absolute right. Now let us look at what the amendment itself says: Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Last I knew the word "No" is an absolute word. And if we start limiting free religion that far behind? The Free Press side is very quick to jump on any restriction to limit the exercise of worshiping the way we choose and very rightfully so... but you cannot have it both ways. And what is lost in this is that the Sheriff's department violated the Occupiers right to not to have their stuff unlawfully searched. That is a right in that same Constitution...or is that not an absolute either?

March 22, 2012 at 7:06 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

HWNB... I agree that the point is to get people to notice you, but these permanent encampments just fade into everyday life after a very short time and lose the impact of a sudden, massive demonstration. And then one begins to wonder what real impact they are having at all. Yes, they are still drawing attention, somewhat, to the inequities, but the very fact that they are "camped out" and then becoming sedentary and simply living there quietly day-to-day signifies a certain acquiescence and acceptance of the status quo. For real change to come, it is going to take much more than a few die-hard protesters pitching tents on court house lawns.

March 22, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
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