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."


Police Investigating An Armed Robbery On Friday Night At UTC

UTC Police are investigating with the Chattanooga City Police an armed robbery in Lot 4 near Boling Apartments on Friday night. The suspects are described as two black men.  One was six feet tall, wearing a navy jacket, with medium skin tone and short hair.  The other suspect was reported to be 5’ 7”, wearing blue jeans and a long white T-shirt. The second suspect ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AKRIDGE, JERTERRIUS MARSHAWN 6317 TALLEDEGA AVENUE CHATTANOOGA, 37421 20 Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY EVADING ARREST RESISTING ARREST OR OBSTRUCTION OF LEGAL PROCESS RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ANTONIO, MICAELA 2001 E. 28TH ST. CHATTANOOGA, 37407 31 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Don't Allow Us To Be Overrun By People Who Do Not Belong Here - And Response (6)

Thank you, Senator Corker, for your clear, concise evaluation of the president's attempt to bypass Congress and personally and independently establish national policy that violates our current immigration laws.   Our long-standing failure to enforce our laws to control illegal immigration across our southern border has made this country less safe and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Pretty’ Seeking ‘Rich’

The story has been around for a while, long enough for the fact-checking Snopes.com to classify it as a “legend,” which means “great story but lacks validity,” so as we hope Tennessee’s football team can somehow beat 19 th -ranked Missouri in a rough-and-tumble game at Neyland Stadium tonight, allow me to share this because it is delightful just the same. The following is what ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Cruises To Another Playoff Victory, 48-7

The Notre Dame football express continues to roll on down the track and it appears the Fighting Irish are just picking up a little bit more steam. Facing a 10-2 McMinn Central in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Class 3-A football playoffs at spacious Finley Stadium Friday night, Notre Dame did what they've been doing all year -- scoring early and often while limiting the ... (click for more)

Irish QB Darras Dazzles Chargers With Passing Show

Film sessions all week didn’t do McMinn Central much good in Friday’s TSSAA Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game against hard-charging Notre Dame. “We knew they were a good ball team from what we saw on film,” Chargers coach Josh Goodin said. “But the films didn’t do them justice. We couldn’t matchup with them.” It was obvious from the start. The third-ranked Irish ... (click for more)