published Friday, January 13th, 2012

Hamilton County commissioners seek to protect safety and property

A quick look at pictures in the Times Free Press of the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse shows why county commissioners are concerned about the so-called "Occupy Chattanooga" protesters who have camped at the site for weeks on end.

Tents and chairs are scattered about. A pile of wood sits under a tarp, and an open fire burns nearby. Once-grassy areas have been reduced to mud. In short, the normally picturesque lawn is a mess.

"You're probably talking about in the thousands-of-dollars range to redo it all and get it back like it used to be," Commissioner Chester Bankston told the Free Press editorial page.

For ill-defined reasons -- such as opposition to "greed" -- Occupy protesters have congregated around the country the past few months. In some cases, sites of their demonstrations have become unsanitary, and some protesters have been violent.

We fortunately have not seen violence in the Chattanooga protest, nor dangerously unsanitary conditions. And agree or disagree with the protesters' views, we all should uphold the constitutional "right of the people peaceably to assemble ... ."

But the freedom of assembly has never been absolute. Time, place and manner restrictions have long been imposed to maintain public order and safety and to protect property.

That is the goal of the commissioners in formalizing restrictions on things such as camping or having open fires outside the courthouse. We do not believe that they want to silence the message of the protesters -- whatever that message is.

The county is now seeking a U.S. District Court ruling that its restrictions are constitutional.

We don't know how that will play out. But we do know that it is reasonable to protect taxpayer-supported county property and public safety.

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328Kwebsite said...

Lee or whomever it is writing these now, why don't you shuffle over there and meet these people instead of gathering information about the conditions by looking at a picture?

Anyone in this city who knows any one of the thousands of people who were subject to bulk terminations not related to employee performance has good reason to be angry at leaders in our business community. Our own neighbors, licensed, granted permission by the people and the state, to engage in commerce with a business license or articles of incorporation: failed.

The main function of commerce and agriculture in our state is to provide a civilized means of survival to our citizens. The main function is not to "make money." Some people don't understand this basic, but critical, difference.

I recommend the editors get out from behind the desk and actually go over to meet some of these people who are protesting. No doubt, you will find many personal faults among them; yet, it is certain that you will also see that many of them share the same anger we all experienced as we saw hundreds of our local residents "laid off" in mass terminations for profit.

This editorial is not really about the lawn conditions. It's about the prejudice that conservatives don't like "hippies." Get out from behind the desk and do the reporting it takes to form an intelligent opinion and write a decent editorial.

January 13, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.

For an editorial board that is so regularly against government interference, it's interesting how quickly you can perform an about-face when it becomes the tool you need to do something.

You should be ashamed with yourselves for taking this hypocritical position just to suppress dissent. You don't care about protecting public safety. You don't care about hygiene. Those are just fake protests that you want us to believe you care about, but we know you don't. How? Because, if it were some other regulation, like for having sewer connections, or if it were somebody saying something you liked, you'd be up in arms about it.

But no, these people say something you don't like, your disdain for them is obvious and regular. Accordingly, your position on them is swayed not by genuine concern, but is rendered suspect by your own opposition.

If you want to take positions like this, I suggest you start by policing your own. Then you will have a modicum of credit to your acts.

January 13, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
ninenineshift5 said...

The people protesting on the courthouse lawn are human. They, like us all, make mistakes. Unlike the rest of us, they're brave enough to allow their mistakes to be visible to the public. Sure, they haven't done things perfectly, but none of us are perfect. I have had doubts and reservations about them, made judgements, supported them, not supported them, then supported them again... but you can't fault them for believing what they believe and having the conviction to boldly broadcast it to the city, knowing the very real risks involved. Has there been violence from authorities or protesters? Not to my knowledge. Have the protesters shown disrespect to the police? Not to my knowledge. Has there been any irreversible damage or vandalism? Not to my knowledge. Have they refused to make efforts for sanitation? Not to my knowledge. Have they refused to concede to requests from the sheriffs department for safety? Not to my knowledge. Is the courthouse exactly the way it was before they came? Of course not. Is it less beautiful? Absolutely not... but unlike the author of this article, I can see the beauty in these people that are fighting for what they feel is right, and quite possibly for the good of the nation, the community, and ultimately even you.

January 13, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.
Rtazmann said...


January 13, 2012 at 5:06 p.m.
librul said...

I support Occupy, I pay taxes, I welcome and share their expression of grievances on MY property. With the way our Constitution is being shredded and corrupted, the way our country is being manipulated toward war and our people abused for the benefit of a greedy few, they are far more demonstrative of democracy than anything the county commission could dream up. 328K has it right. The Free Press editors should climb down from their ivory towers and get the facts - and let those facts guide their pen rather than so predictably cater to prejudice.

January 14, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
FreedomJournal said...


“There was once a man called and commissioned to record the deeds, life and times of those that are said to have not. He had to have been in the bread line also to feel not the pain as he knew Jesus then and now.”

Greetings Brethren,

Peace be unto you. To the Church and believing Christians everywhere. To those that believe in the Bible as the supreme authority that governs all of humankind. In this we give thanks to God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us the straightway.

Beloved we have time and time again once more than once commissioned and ordained to render a report on the poor. Therefore as the world sets certain standards many people move upon God’s green earth as the destitute, impoverished, indigent, needy, penniless, poverty-stricken, underprivileged, miserable and shabby. Thus their story continues to unfold. But really who are these people?

Are you born poor or rich? Is wealth only counted up in material things? Are those born poor always able to move up the economic ladder in the land of the Free? Can one move up and down? Why are some rich and some poor? Just how is poverty (poor, Po) defined? Are there automatic built-in problems that embrace exploitation among all that are poor? Is love found among all people rich or poor, poor or rich? Is it ridiculous to note poverty as a state of mind?

A Faceless Man

The man who offered me a hand up I knew not his name. Meanwhile no one knew they were poor at birth however, many did know that they were rich as the rich spoke of such and lived in a way that lifted them up.

The poor saw beautiful sun filled skies and tasted the water at the cool and refreshing Indian Spring where many Native Americans had been looked upon as human beings and not as ruthless savages invented by other men.

All were not shiftless or lazy that did not amass wealth, money and things material. Some were held down in place by those that squatted on economic privilege as a mother hen on eggs that never hatched. Thus all were not rich or poor.

There had to be a balance and after all the rich and the poor were only in the eyes of the beholder. But many paid more for poverty as the hens and roosters of the chicken house looked for ways to cash in on an already broke cash cow.

But I saw love in all human beings, rich, poor, Black, Brown, White, Red, and Yellow but green became the number for many that frowned on those that had few shoes to wear and hardly clothes to place on the backs of their children.

It was dark of night and I could not see however, a hand reached out for me and those like me in a mood of compassion in all times of need and trouble. I saw not the face nor was the name important. I saw love at midnight and this was rich nor poor.

January 16, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.
RichardPhuket said...

If the protesters were really civic minded, they should stay behind to clean up the mess that they created. They would not be able to push the blame to someone else, and this just shows how disorganized they are in their execution.

Richard -

June 13, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
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