Legislators want to stop ‘no-go zones’ in TN; Muslim advocates object

Republican legislators have introduced a bill to prohibit “no-go zones” in Tennessee and a Muslim advocacy group is not happy about it, reports The Tennessean.

The bill (SB1040) defines a no-go zone as “a contiguous geographical area consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area.” Sponsors are Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

“She’s not writing this without targeting anyone,” said Paul Galloway, executive director of the advocacy group American Center for Outreach (referring to Lynn).

“It could be anti-immigrant. It could be anti-Muslim,” he said. “It seems to be a combination of both.”
…Lynn said Galloway’s statements are inaccurate. She argues her bill doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Muslims. She said banning such zones will combat systemic problems and protect commerce.

“You might find it with gang activity, you might find it with organized crime, and of course we have heard that there were some places where it is happening with certain religious groups,” Lynn said.

…(T)here has been a recent international fervor over the concept of Muslims allegedly banning people from going to certain areas. Fox News eventually apologized and acknowledged it made factual errors in allowing an on-air interviewee to claim that entire cities, like Birmingham, England, were off limits to anyone who isn’t Muslim, as the Washington Post reported.

The report is one of several that include well-known leaders like Louisiana’s GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal making allegations of “no-go zones” based on little more than anecdotal evidence. Lynn provided similar justification for her bill. She said she’s never experienced anything first hand but argued some believe such zones exist in Tennessee.

“There are some people who claim that there are some areas of Tennessee where they feel this is happening. And as you know, when there’s activity happening where people sort of feel intimidated, there’s not exactly a sign up on the wall,” Lynn said in a recent interview. “But its just an overall feeling of intimidation.”

…There are already laws that prevent gangs, or anyone else, from harassing people in public spaces. Lynn argued those laws might help prevent one-time events, but they’re no use for “a systemic” problem. She said the federal government intervening to force public universities to allow black students to attend during the Civil Rights era is “really the same sort of thing.”

UPDATE/NOTE: Blogging Betsy Phillips suggests the bill may have unintended consequences, namely a negative impact on anti-abortion protesters, HERE. Phillips, who takes a somewhat liberal view on most things, thanks Lynn for her proposal.