published Thursday, November 17th, 2011

County Commission takes no action, preserving Occupy protest at courthouse

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, left, talks with Occupy Chattanooga protesters on the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse in November, 2011 .
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, left, talks with Occupy Chattanooga protesters on the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse in November, 2011 .
Photo by John Rawlston.
Audio clip

Hamilton County Commission meeting - Nov. 16, 2011

Poll
Is it time for occupy protesters to move on?
  • Yes. 60%
  • No. 40%

654 total votes.

Though Occupy encampments have been swept away across the nation, Occupy Chattanooga protesters are staying in place on the courthouse lawn for the moment.

Hamilton County commissioners, who said Tuesday afternoon they were poised to take action, didn't bring up the matter at Wednesday's commission meeting.

In turn, Sheriff Jim Hammond said his deputies would continue only to enforce state laws.

"The commission has not made any decision giving any direction," Hammond said.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Tuesday afternoon it was likely the body would vote to designate a liaison to work with Hammond on enforcing any applicable laws, no item was added to the commission's Wednesday agenda.

"We're just trying to watch them as long as there are not any health and safety issues that come out of it," Henry said after the meeting.

The Occupy Chattanooga group was prepared to take legal action to void any commission action to evict them from the property, group member Scott Burnett said Wednesday.

Dozens of Occupy Chattanooga members attended the commission meeting, filling almost half the meeting room. Several group members spoke during the 10 minutes allotted to them in the public comment period at the end of the meeting.

One of those, Pamela Phillips, explained to commissioners that she wasn't an outsider or a college student. She explained she's a seventh-generation Hamilton County resident who graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, pays taxes and raised her children here.

She made the case that the group has been careful to maintain the lawn and comply with officials' requests.

"I have no doubt that the area around the courthouse is safer than it has been in years," she said.

Also at the meeting, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith raised concerns that residents still are not prepared for the state's new voter ID law, which will require registered voters to present photo IDs next year at the polls.

Last month, County Clerk Bill Knowles said state figures show more than 7,000 of those 60 and older in Hamilton County have driver's licenses without photos.

On Wednesday, Smith asked Knowles how many residents have taken advantage of the clerk's free photo upgrades for their licenses.

Knowles, who's been offering the upgrades since Oct. 17, said his office has added photos for about 120 or 130 drivers since the program's inception.

The Tennessee Department of Safety has begun opening driver's license centers on the first Saturday of each month strictly to offer photo IDs. On Nov. 5, state license centers issued more than 660 photo IDs for voters, state records show.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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Facts said...

Understand County folks. If these "County Leaders" won't take on these squatters, you can go ahead to understand every single one of them will stand as silent on the land grab underway by Ron Littlefield. As a member of the local Tea Party, I know the extraordinary efforts that are always taken to comply with permits & ordinances at our events. These folks are given free run with complete disregard to the same. Because of the cowards in office, I will now be actively working, along with quite a few others, to defeat the incumbents on the County Commission. Double standards continue for those who work hard and play by the rules and those who "protest".

November 17, 2011 at 9:14 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

Typical teabagger. What's the matter, you can't get your walker and oxygen tank on the grass at the courthouse so you're jealous of those whipper-snappers? The only ordinance they need is the right of free speech and the right to assemble. Grab a tent, make a misspelled sign about "tynarny", hang tea bags from your 3-point hat and get up there as a counter protest.

November 17, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.
Gator said...

LOL! XGSBoss, maybe I missed something, but I don't remember the tea-baggers erecting tent cities on public property, and creating massive debt for the taxpayers in cleanup fees and extra security. I'm not a tea-bagger, but comparing this nationwide "woodstock" movement to the tea-baggers exposes your narrow-view of politics as a whole. The majority of the OWS crowd doesn't even know WHY they are there. It's become a big, expensive joke.

November 17, 2011 at 9:58 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

How sadly misled and mis-educated you are Gator. OWS is massively larger than the baggers ever hoped. And the thugish police can leave them alone and quit sending the bill to us tax payers whenever they want. And the baggers CAN erect tent cities if they choose. That's the beauty of this country. They however choose not to. And just because Fox focuses on a few people who don't fully grasp the cause, doesn't mean there is not a cohesive goal.

You hate our freedom, I get it. Run down the OWS people and their ideals. If you think the cost from any and all OWS operations could ever in the time Earth has left, amount to what Wall Street and our politicians have cost us, you are sadly ill informed.

November 17, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
tipper said...

"Public safety and hygiene" have become convenient excuses for local, state, and federal law enforcement and conservative elected officials accross the country to abuse peoples' rights to assemble and air their grievances. Hamilton County officials have so far demonstrated the proper response and seem to be working hard to follow the law. Hopefully, the county commission will n ot step over the line and cause problems. If there is trouble, it will fall on their heads. Lawyers for the citizens need to stay sharp.

November 17, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

They cry socialism and then try to force it upon us. Since when is a protest not following the rules? Facts, I think it is time to get the constitution out and give it a good read. Democracy is messy. Get over it.

November 17, 2011 at 4:19 p.m.
chet123 said...

Republican are so funny....they cry socialism, booooooooooo! then say how good a christian they are,,,,,have they ever follow the teaching of Christ ie giving to the poor,taking care of the widows,giving to ceasar what is ceasar(taxes) hmmmmmmmm sounds like socialism to me ha ha ha

They talk about PRO-LIFE.....They behave like a fool over an egg and sperm .....then when they forget they are on tv during the republican debate...they yell-out let him die......ha ha ha PRO-LIFE Hmmmmmm ha ha ha

The brand name republican not worth COW MANURE!!!

November 19, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
cildawg1 said...

I think I'll take some sandwiches to those "Occupy Chattanoogans.' They're my kind of folks!!!

November 29, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.
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