Why The Ed Johnson Memorial Matters To Me, A Libertarian

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I have seen a lot of responses to the question of whether or not our city and county should financially support the Ed Johnson Memorial at the Walnut Street bridge. Some fully support government pitching in and some say that private individuals and civic organizations should pitch in. Both are correct. 

Our city has become a very sought after place to live. From our hometown feel, to the emerging tech sector and revitalized manufacturing base. In our city we also have a blend of conservative and progressive ideologies that seem to coexist quite well. This issue is something that should speak to both sets of beliefs. 

The Ed Johnson case not only had an effect on the people Chattanooga at the time but absolutely changed the role of the federal courts for all Americans.  Unfortunately many of us have been ignorant for too long as to the details of the case. 

In this country the ultimate protector of our rights is the Constitution. This document affirms that the individual is of the utmost importance, and neither local, state, nor federal governments are superior to the individuals right to life or liberty.  In this case Ed Johnson was accused of a crime that he didn’t commit; was tried by a hostile jury that was not made up of his peers, and was denied due process by a corrupt judge and sheriff seeking re-election. For the first time in its history the supreme court stepped in after he was sentenced to death and ordered the sheriff to protect mister Johnson so that he could be given a fair trial.  Unfortunately Sheriff Shipp, whose constitutional duty was to protect the rights of Ed Johnson, conspired with the judge to allow a lynch mob to hang Mr. Johnson. 

The Ed Johnson project merits support from all sides. The support from organizations like Black Lives Matter seems obvious. The NAACP is also a no brainer. The state and local bar associations have cause to celebrate the brilliant attorneys who have the distinction of being one of the first African- American attorneys to serve as lead counsel in a case before the United States Supreme Court, and in so doing putting their own lives on the line to protect their clients rights. The City and County as well should support this because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Our locals communities of faith can get behind men from this story like T.H. McCallie (recognize that name?) and many others who showed that the will and the bravery of good men who are willing to stand in the gap at risk to themselves can be more powerful than the hatred of a mob. 

Finally to my fellow libertarians and conservatives, if we say that we believe in the rights and protections that are provided in our founding documents to the individual, how can we keep silent. If we believe that the government serves to protect our rights how can we turn a blind eye to the injustices of the past that have been committed by that government. How can we not seek to show as an example the first time our federal government attempted to act as it should and protect the rights of the individual, and hold accountable elected officials who sought to set themselves above the law. 

It is not my intent to paint this case in a positive light. A decent man lost his life because of a corrupt sheriff and judge, and an ideology that saw him as less than his fellow citizens. But what can be brought from the acknowledgement of this part of our history is an understanding of where we have come from, how far we have progressed and how much farther we can go. All we have to do is see the issues that we can all agree on. That all men are created equal. That we all have a right to life and liberty. That we all have rights that should be defended even if we don’t see eye to eye about our points of view. That the courage to stand for what is right in the face of opposition no matter how vocal, or strong should be celebrated. And maybe, just maybe, if we listen to each other and find the common values that we all believe in, we can make our country, our state, our city and our neighborhoods, places that we can be proud of.

Scott Schrader



A Societal Ill Wind

A societal ill wind blows a lot of controversy around over drug addiction and how it effects citizens, families and how we all live..  A recent doctor appointment brought me closer then I ever thought to drug addiction and its effects on the total community. I drove to Carthage, Tn. the first time ever travelling to another small town in eastern Tennessee. The injection, affordable, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We’re 11th In Gridlock

At any given time on any of the seven days in a week, you can expect traffic on Interstate 24, as it snakes around the city, goes over Missionary Ridge, and heads to Interstate 75, to slow to a crawl. Sheer traffic volume now causes more slowdowns than wrecks or weather and it is guaranteed to get worse. Already Chattanooga is ranked No. 11 for freight gridlock in the entire United ... (click for more)

Farrow, Waldens Are Newest Lead Donors For Medal Of Honor Heritage Center Capital Campaign

Officials of the Medal of Honor Heritage Center on Tuesday announced the center has reached a major milestone in its agreement with River City Company to build the new Heritage Center at the former Visitors Center building in the Aquarium Plaza.  This milestone, to raise more than $3 million by the end of 2018, was made possible, in part, by a $250,000 gift from Farrow Family ... (click for more)

2 Bank Tellers Say They Are Positive Walter Rice Was Gunman Who Robbed Hixson Branch

Two tellers from the Hixson branch of the Bank of America testified Tuesday they are positive that Walter Frank Rice is the individual who robbed them at gunpoint last July 25. General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom bound a bank robbery charge against Rice, 36, of 4734 Sabrina Lane, Hixson, to the Grand Jury. She raised his bond on the bank robbery charge to $250,000, calling ... (click for more)

Henderson Saves The Day For Soddy Daisy Volleyball

The high school volleyball match at Soddy Daisy Monday night between the host Soddy Daisy Lady Trojans and the Chattanooga Christian Lady Chargers was not a district match and has no bearing whatsoever on regular-season standings, but it was one that CCS coach Sarah Stutheit wanted to win in a big, big way. Her Lady Chargers made an incredible comeback after losing the first ... (click for more)

Covenant's Lemay Named Defensive Player Of The Week

Covenant men's soccer junior goalkeeper Paul Lemay was named the USA South Defensive Player of the Week, for the period ending on Sept. 16, announced the league on Monday. The honor is the first of Lemay's career. The junior from Apopka, Fla., played all 270 minutes at the net for the Scots and helped the team to a 2-1 week, with both wins coming against conference opponents. ... (click for more)