My Correspondence with the Governor’s Office

This morning I wrote:

Dear Governor Haslam,

Setting time limits and monetary requirements on when people are allowed to gather on taxpayer-funded state property to exercise their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances is unconstitutional.

Having people arrested for not following your unconstitutional rules is morally bankrupt and bad manners.

Shame on you. You know better.

Betsy Phillips

They wrote:

October 28, 2011

Dear Betsy:

Thank you for writing to Governor Haslam and sharing your concerns regarding the Occupy Nashville protests.  Listening to and learning from Tennesseans is very important to us, and we appreciate hearing from you.

We all have a right to peaceably assemble, and those assemblies should be safe, sanitary, and non-destructive.

Criminal activity and deteriorating sanitary conditions over the past several days on Legislative Plaza created an environment that is unsafe for the protestors, state employees, and everyone who lives, works and enjoys downtown Nashville.  Therefore, permits will be granted to protestors on a daily basis from 9:00am until 4:00pm.

While this administration wholeheartedly supports freedom of speech, assembly and petition, it is our responsibility to keep people safe on state property.  Abiding by these hours allows for a safe event, while ensuring the people’s right to peaceably assemble.

Again, thank you for writing.  We look forward to working with you and all Tennesseans to make our great state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

Kindest regards,

The Governor’s Office of Constituent Services

I wrote:

I notice that you didn’t address how you’re charging Tennessee taxpayers to peaceably assemble.

Also, when the crimes are being committed AGAINST the protesters, infringing on the rights of the protesters rather than protecting them reeks of victim blaming.

I saw on the news last night that THP will provide officers for free for entertainers and athletes who need their protection.

It is a shame these poor kids don’t warrant the same consideration. Instead, they get arrested.

Is it just because they lack a bus?


Betsy Phillips

13 thoughts on “My Correspondence with the Governor’s Office

  1. Permits. to speak. will. be. granted. by. the. government.


    it makes me want to get a ride down there and wipe my ass with the permit.

  2. I’m going to mail a copy of Section 23 of the Tennessee Constitution to the governor, because, apparently, he hasn’t read it.

    § 23. Right of assembly; redress of grievances

    That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address or remonstrance.

  3. It’s outrageous. I mean, I’m old and find large group things creepy. And now I’m on the side of the Occupy Nashville people because I want to be able to stand on the plaza I HELP PAY FOR and hold my sign whenever the time comes that I need to, even if I have to stand there for days.

  4. I’m pissed off. Reading the Tennessean story is–and I hate to use this because it’s almost as Godwiny as Hitler anymore–Orwellian.

    This part:
    The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security early Friday morning enforced a revised state policy that makes the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard, and Capitol grounds areas closed to the public from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily.

    made my skin crawl. All these Departments and Policies that make the death of liberty seem so clean and neat and orderly.


  5. and now any time I say “death of liberty” I think of that atrocious line in Revenge of The Sith where Natalie Portman is all smugly disdainful in her stupid space hair.

    I hate you today, George Lucas.

  6. What people need to get hold of is that this is not just misuse of power.. (what “endangering ” and “unsafe” and “criminal” activities are they even alleging occurred?) They don’t even bother to explain THAT.)..but that these “new state rules” are purely political uses of force and “the law.” They would not, not, not be employed or even have come up to, say for instance, clear the same area of Tea Partiers openly brandishing weaponry. But the thing about movements is, sooner or later, provoking responses like this becomes a tool (see: Civil Rights movement, labor movement, history), even a useful one. (Meanwhile: in Albany NY yesterday, the police themselves decided not to clear out protestors there which, note, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo had supported. The cops could see no justification–and were sympathetic! Which is very interesting.)

  7. Yay, Albany. The labor unions (particularly CSEA and CWA) have been terrific here. Catholics (laity, priests, nuns) and Quakers are organizing to provide food, blankets, hygiene supplies. The permanent occupation camp is pretty small (about 100 overnighters, as many as 500 or 1000 during the day) and skews a little older maybe than some of the other protests in other cities. I think the maturity and pacific tendencies of the crowd has led to the APD’s hands-off approach. Plus, the camp is not on state capitol grounds, but directly across the street in a city park — not an accident that they decided to do that, so that Governor 1% couldn’t oust them by using the state troopers.

    Of course, we’re slated for 3-6 inches of snow tomorrow night so the weather is going to be a challenge. We’ll see whether the early winter is a godsend for Wall Street or not.

  8. My favourite part of the story for ON is that the commisioner/clerk refused to sign the arrest warrants for the protestors. That guy is a hero to me at this point.

    “these “new state rules” are purely political uses of force and “the law.” ”

    Oh, I know. My little libertarian heart is just a-fuming.

  9. Pingback: My Letter to Governor Haslam on the Restriction of Free Assembly on Public Land « Women's Health News

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