Nashville State Rep. Hits Haslam Crackdown On Legislative Plaza Protestors

Says Plaza Should Be Returned "To The People Of Tennessee"

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Rep. Mike Stewart
Rep. Mike Stewart

A Nashville state representative has hit a crackdown by the Haslam administration on protestors at the Legislative Plaza.

Rep. Mike Stewart condemned "the Haslam Administration’s effort to suppress the right of all Tennessee citizens to peacefully assemble on Legislative Plaza."

He said, "There is no more fundamental American freedom than the freedom of speech. The right of the people to exchange ideas and to protest government actions they find unwise is enshrined in both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. Defending such essential American rights should be the very first job of our state government.

"The Haslam Administration’s recent efforts to shut down protests on Legislative Plaza goes in the other direction and should be condemned by all Tennesseans, regardless of political persuasion. Legislative Plaza is a public place, owned by the people, paid for by the people, and used by the people for years as a place to exercise their First Amendment rights.

"Now, all of a sudden, the Haslam Administration is charging citizens for the right to use their own Plaza, limiting citizens’ access to that public space to hours when most citizens with day jobs cannot exercise their free speech rights, and imposing a million dollar insurance requirement that many citizens doubtless cannot satisfy. The intended effect is to close the Legislative Plaza to the very citizens who are supposed to be in command of our democratic state and federal governments.

"Administration officials’ suggestion that the new policies are needed to prevent 'deteriorating sanitary conditions' and 'maintain security and safety' do not hold water. Tennessee has long had laws in place to deal with such issues; if individuals are acting in ways that endanger others, then state and local officials have the power to stop those particular people without at the same time infringing on the rights of other citizens.

"At a time when young men and women are putting themselves in harm’s way in war zones halfway around the world to defend our rights, we should be particularly vigilant to preserve those rights at home. The world has always looked to our country to set the example for all peoples desirous of freedom; we should be careful every day to maintain that moral high ground.

"It was not long ago that a group of college students led a protest march past what is now Legislative Plaza to the Davidson County Courthouse and successfully persuaded then Mayor Ben West to be the first leader in the South to de-segregate downtown businesses. In that same spirit, we should welcome peaceful protesters to our public spaces whether or not those protesters happen to be promoting ideas that we agree with.

"Our Tennessee Constitution reminds us that 'all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority.'

"I call on Governor Haslam to immediately rescind all new policies designed to make peaceful demonstrations more difficult and to thereby return Legislative Plaza to the control of the people of Tennessee."



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BECK, ALLEN FRANKLIN  727 E 11TH STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37403  Age at Arrest: 53 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ASSAULT --- BRANHAM, MICHAEL LEBRON  3421 PERSIMMON LN CHATTANOOGA, 37406  Age at Arrest: 31 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges ... (click for more)

Prosecutor Says Brewer Was Driving 80 And Was High On Meth At Time Of Horrific Wreck At Ooltewah Exit; Defense Says There Is No Evidence Of Intoxication

A prosecutor on Monday told a Criminal Court jury from Nashville that Benjamin Scott Brewer was driving 80 mph, was high on meth and never hit his brakes when he caused an horrific wreck on June 25, 2015, at the Ooltewah exit of I-75. Crystle Carrion asked the jury to find Brewer guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication, four counts of reckless aggravated assault, ... (click for more)

General Bell: This Government Shutdown Is Outrageous - And Response (2)

The day before yesterday two Army Apache Attack Helicopter pilots were killed in a crash during training at Fort Irwin, Ca.  The pilots and their unit were preparing for a future deployment to combat operations.    As a result of the government shutdown, none of the spouses or families of these pilots will receive a dime from the United States Government in immediate ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Making A Difference

It was about 50 years ago when the late writer Loren Eiseley penned an essay called “The Starfish Thrower” so it’s been one of my favorite stories for almost as long. It tells about a man who walks up to a young boy on a beach, this just after a strong storm had washed hundreds of helpless starfish onto the shore. The boy was picking up the stranded starfish and, one at a time, ... (click for more)

McCallie Bounces Back To Beat MBA, 56-42

It’s been a tough two-week stretch for coach John Shulman and his McCallie basketball team as they lost two games in a row after starting off the season with 17 straight wins. The Blue Tornado had a makeup game with Montgomery Bell Academy at McCallie Monday night and the home team got back on the winning track with a 56-42 victory. With the win, McCallie improves to 18-2 ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Second-Half Rally Dumps East Ridge, 66-54

East Ridge launched an all-out 3-point blitz against Ooltewah on Monday night at Catherine Neely Gymnasium. The Owls, who trailed 2-0 before the game even started due to Cam Chambers’ technical foul because of dunking in warmups, weathered that storm. They whittled an 18-6 first-quarter deficit down to 27-23 at halftime. Ooltewah took its first lead at 31-30 on Kobe Smith’s ... (click for more)