… and proof of $1 million in liability insurance.
That is the new rule for exercising your Constitutionally-protected right of free speech at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. The Haslam Administration has unabashedly changed the rules at the 11th hour in an effort to crush the Occupy Nashville protest. And yes, it’s an astonishingly blatant government overreach from our so-called “small government” Republican governor. Wake up and smell the hypocrisy:
The state curfew bans anybody from being on the plaza from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Protests would be allowed by permit between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those permits would cost $65 a day and groups would also be required to buy $1 million in liability insurance coverage.
An ACLU spokesperson said they are monitoring the situation and are drafting a lawsuit. Changing the rules in the middle of a protest to crush that protest “raises constitutional questions,” they say. Yes, I think so.
I just wonder where all of those Teanuts so in love with our Constitution are? This isn’t the first time our baby-faced Republican governor has crushed a civil right. Back in June he signed a law making it a crime to display or transmit “distressing images” online. He’s blocked our access to the courts with his “tort reform.” We have our new Tennessee Voter ID law, which stands ready to disenfranchise thousands of people who don’t meet the state’s arbitrary Voter ID requirement (gun permit yes! Student ID, no!) Once again, these “small government” Republicans show themselves to be hypocrites, perfectly happy to let the government’s long arm reach in and silence a protest they don’t agree with, but calling it gross overreach when we try to protect our air and water.
These chickens will be coming home to roost for years to come. Tennessee will be paying for this in some unexpected ways, methinks.
And I want to raise some awareness about the people participating in Occupy Nashville. It’s not all DFH’s and college kids. Let’s give some mad props to 71-year-old Rip Patton:
“If you don’t hear from me, call the city jail,” 71-year-old Rip Patton told his friends. A veteran of the civil rights struggle, Patton was one of the students who braved arrest and worse to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and to bring voting rights to blacks in the Deep South as one of the Freedom Riders.
More on Rip Patton here. And thank you to The Tennessean for taking the time to interview this social justice veteran. It’s a great interview.
You can’t possibly get more conservative than Bill Hobbs: he was, after all, once the spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party. And yet, I’m getting the warm fuzzies reading his Twitter stream.
When even Bill Hobbs agrees the Haslam Administration has overreached and is stifling dissent, you know you’re talking about an issue that is way beyond partisanship.