HEADLINE: Protest signs shaming Haslam lead to uproar in Cleveland, Tenn.
THE RECAP: Dan Rawls, a Cleveland, Tenn., businessman, says city officials crossed a line when they tore down protest signs he posted outside his business last week during a visit by Gov. Bill Haslam. City Councilman George Poe, who took down the signs, justified the actions by saying that the signs embarrassed the city since Haslam was in town to give away $570,000 in grants. City Manager Janice Casteel, who helped Poe uproot the signs, claimed the signs were in the public right of way, even though nearby real estate signs that were closer to the public right of way sat undisturbed.
Rawls' signs protested Haslam's support of the Common Core educational curriculum.
DREW'S VIEW: Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel and City Councilman George Poe embarrassed the city and its residents by their despicable attempt to silence a Cleveland man's right to free speech.
Poe's admission that he didn't want anyone to say anything bad about Haslam while the governor was doing something nice for the community is a chilling indictment that the city councilman is willing to trade his constituents' constitutional rights in exchange for handouts.
Even if Casteel was correct and Rawls signs were in a public right of way, which is doubtful judging by photograph published in last Saturday's Times Free Press, Poe and Casteel are not authorized to act as code enforcers. Thus, they had no right to take the signs down.
Rawls plans to ask a judge for arrest warrants against Casteel and Poe next week on charges of criminal trespass, vandalism and official oppression. We should all support Rawls for taking a brave and powerful stand against these bullies who attacked his liberties. Casteel and Poe obviously have no respect for the Constitution or the people they serve and, as a result, have no business keeping their positions.
HEADLINE: Chattanoogans rally in wake of Zimmerman verdict
THE RECAP: Members of Concerned Citizens for Justice in Chattanooga organized a teach-in and protest Sunday in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. "We recognize that Florida and the 'Stand Your Ground' law that helped Zimmerman get away with murder is also a law that we have right here in Tennessee," said Ash-Lee Henderson, a Concerned Citizens organizer. Similar gatherings have occurred throughout the U.S. to protest "Stand Your Ground" and perceived issues of race surrounding the case.
DREW'S VIEW: It's troubling that people across the nation are so ignorant about the actual case that they're protesting a law that played no role in Zimmerman's acquittal.
The loss of a young life is tragic. And it seems reasonable to conclude that Zimmerman went out looking for a confrontation the night Martin died. But this wasn't a situation where the "Stand Your Ground" law was exploited to kill someone.
The reality is that "Stand Your Ground" was never a part of the case. Zimmerman's attorneys did not use the law in his defense. The case came down to a matter of self-defense. Members of the media and advocacy groups that claim otherwise didn't watch, or don't understand, the facts of the case.
It also seems clear that racism was not inherent in this unfortunate circumstance -- racism was only inherent in the reaction to the situation. Racism was injected by the media to add drama -- and, ultimately to turn an unfortunate, but not particularly newsworthy, occurrence into national headlines during a slow news cycle.
What bothers me most about the over-dramatic liberals and ill-informed hippies who protested Zimmerman's acquittal was that they ignore the fact that the outcome of the case was a victory for reasonable doubt.
In a country where justice is often not served for defendants -- especially defendants who look like Trayvon Martin -- the jurors were wise enough to determine that there was reasonable doubt about the circumstances that led to Martin's death. As a result, they refused to convict Zimmerman.
Overdramatic liberals and ill-informed hippies should be protesting, along with everyone else. But what we should all be protesting is that, too often, jurors don't properly apply the standards of reasonable doubt. As a result, too many people are unfairly convicted in our unjust justice system.
HEADLINE: New SUV eyed as Chattanooga's partnership with Volkswagen turns 5
THE RECAP: Five years after picking Chattanooga for its only U.S. production plant, Volkswagen officials are ratcheting up talk about assembling a new sport utility vehicle for American motorists. VW officials in Chattanooga are making a strong case for producing the new SUV, which the company wants to build in 2015.
DREW'S VIEW: Rumors are rampant that leaders at Volkswagen's German headquarters are threatening to require unionization of the Chattanooga VW facility in order to be chosen to produce the carmaker's planned new SUV.
VW employees and area leaders should laugh off the hollow threat. After all, VW is a financially astute company that will make its decision based on whether expanding the Chattanooga plant to produce the new SUV is the best fit from an economic perspective. VW employees shouldn't feel pressured into unionizing based on promises of the new SUV -- or because of UAW scare tactics.
Instead, plant workers should base their decision to unionize on the reality that unionizing will almost certainly lead to fewer jobs and may, ultimately, force the facility to close.
"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.
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