This story was updated at 10:25 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, with more information.
A handful of activists protested at Chattanooga City Council Chairman Chip Henderson's home Wednesday night as tensions continued to rise around the police budget and the cutoff of public comments at a council meeting.
Local activists for weeks have been protesting police brutality and seeking broad reinvestment of funds from the police department to community programs and priorities. They are joining the worldwide response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Many activists were upset when the council voted 8-1 Tuesday night to give initial approval to the city budget, with little movement in the direction of defunding police. They were also upset when Henderson limited public comments at the council meeting.
On Wednesday morning, City Hall was vandalized with bright red paint on the steps.
Wednesday evening, Henderson's house was targeted by protesters with the Democratic Socialists of America honking car horns and using bullhorns in the cul-de-sac outside.
According to DSA Co-Chair Katie Keel, the protest was in response to Henderson's handling of Tuesday's meeting.
"As citizens of Chattanooga, we felt really disrespected by the council's decision to limit public speaking time to an hour on an issue that's extremely important right now, especially after two and a half weeks of almost nightly protests about the same topic," she wrote in an email late Wednesday.
"The whole council also repeatedly made comments to the effect that this movement doesn't have specific demands, and that's why they limited us — it's a flat lie. Concerned Citizens for Justice has been organizing actions to address the city, and calling for a Community Oversight Board in particular, for many years now. They've called for a $45 million divestment into new and existing social programs. We're proud to stand with them and demand that the city council actually do the jobs we elected and pay them to do."
Council members said Tuesday they limited public comment due to "crass" memes and "bullying," during and after a 7.5-hour meeting on the same subject the week before.
In an apparent reference to Henderson having one member of the public removed from the meeting after the person used two expletives, one protester had a sign reading, "We'll watch our language when you do your f———- job."
Henderson told the Times Free Press after protesters left that he had called CPD and the protesters were made to leave.
He also said he's fine with them protesting at council but they had "no business" doing so where it would affect his family and neighbors who "did not sign up for that."
"As for the decision to visit a council person's house — Chip mentioned that the council is where this needs to happen, but when the meeting's on Zoom and they choose to cut us off, that's on them," Keel added. "Making noise and generally causing a disturbance is the essence of First Amendment protest and if the council wants us to be quieter and not make noise that annoys them and their neighbors, they should heed our demands when they have the chance to — at public City Council meetings. No justice, no peace isn't just a slogan. We won't be silenced. Frankly the council should have expected an increase in the annoyance after what they did last night."