Category Archives: protests

Christians rally for anti-gay marriage bill

Conservative Christians rallied at the Capitol today against same-sex marriage and cheered as one of their leaders prayed for Jesus to stop “sin and wickedness and perversion” in Tennessee, reports the Nashville Scene.

Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers organized the demonstration of about 100 people to drum up support for their Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act, which faces its first big test tomorrow in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.

“People need to stand up for their Christian values,” Pody said. “We cannot just let this go by. … They trample our Constitution. Even if a court rules against us, here in Tennessee we are going to stand. Now is the time to act. We want to make sure our voices are heard.

“Let the legislators know how you feel. The legislators listen to the people.”

Beavers added, “This is about more than morality. It’s about states’ rights.”

…To go forward tomorrow, the bill needs three votes on the five-member House Civil Justice Subcommittee. Two of those members are Democrats and definite no votes. The three Republicans are Reps. Jim Coley, Jon Lundberg and Mike Carter—all of whom are moderate at least some of the time and could go against the bill. Its supporters better pray a little harder.

Insure TN demonstrators mark opening session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Protesters advocating for the passage of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Medicaid expansion proposal packed the state Capitol on Tuesday, singing, chanting and waving signs as lawmakers who defeated the measure last year returned for the first day of the legislative session.

The plan, called Insure Tennessee, which would extend health coverage to 280,000 Tennesseans, was defeated by fellow Republicans in the Legislature who balked at supporting a measure tied to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Despite the protesters’ enthusiasm, there appears to be little chance the heavy GOP majorities in both chambers will change their mind as they head into this year’s election season. All 99 House seats are up this fall, as are 16 of 33 Senate seats.

Haslam hasn’t been optimistic about reviving the proposal, remarking recently that “it wasn’t like we just barely lost” last year.

The governor is hoping to have better luck this year with a proposal in a completely different area: Education. Haslam is putting forth a proposal that establishes individual administrative boards at each of the six four-year schools under the Tennessee Board of Regents system.

A proposal to boost state revenues for road projects faces an uncertain fate among lawmakers, who are wary about approving the state’s first gas tax hike in 25 years, especially during an election season.

The Senate began its first floor session with a moment of silence in honor of the sailor and four Marines killed in a shooting rampage in Chattanooga in July.

…The House also swore in three new Republican members: Gary Hicks of Rogersville, Jamie Jenkins of Somerville and Jason Zachary of Knoxville.

Rep. Holt backs Oregon anti-government protesters

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee lawmaker is voicing support for the cause of armed anti-government protesters who took over a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Republican state Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden took to Twitter on Monday to ask the protesters where he could send support for their effort. Holt later deleted the tweet but went on to debate the matter in subsequent posts.

Holt said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that although he doesn’t agree with the protesters’ tactics, he supports the goal of getting the federal government to turn over public land to the Western states. The lawmaker said he also opposes the prison sentences of two ranchers who set fire to federal land.

“They’ve drawn attention to something that I’ve been trying to draw attention to for years, which is the fact that we have a tyrannical federal bureaucracy on multiple levels,” Holt said.

“This is a protest of an onerous, tyrannical federal government,” he said. “Is it a great idea to take over a federal building? I wouldn’t have done it. But I’m going to lend them my moral support.”
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TBI file on Memphis police shooting made public

TheTennessee Bureau of Investigation file on a Memphis police officer Connor Schilling’s shooting of Darrius Stewart was posted Tuesday for public review on the website of Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The July 17 fatal shooting of Stewart, a black 19-year-old, by a white officer after a traffic stop sparked protests, marches and vigils in Memphis.

Weirich petitioned a court for the release of the TBI file, which by state law is sealed, saying in such an “emotionally charged situation” it was in the public’s best interest. The 918-page report offers the first public look into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, including eyewitness accounts, cell phone videos, the officer’s interview with investigators and the autopsy report.

…On Tuesday afternoon outside the courthouse at 140 Adams, lawyers held a press conference alongside Stewart’s father, Henry Williams.

“I always told (Darrius) that the police was supposed to protect,” Williams said. “That’s what he always believed. That’s what all of us really believed. But I see now we’re getting to the point and the fact that it’s hard to trust them.”

Carlos Moore, attorney for Stewart’s father, said the family is disgusted and dismayed by the contents of the report, and that Schilling should have been indicted. He said they ask the community to remain calm and said the family remains cautiously optimistic for the outcome of a federal review of the shooting.

“It’s clear that he was racially profiled,” Moore said. “If he had been a white man, a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a malfunctioning headlight he would not have been asked for his ID.”

Moore said multiple eyewitness statements show “how this man was executed by Connor Schilling. There’s no justified reason for him not to be indicted,” Moore said.

Schilling’s attorney said the report confirms that the grand jury did the right thing when it failed to indict the officer.

“The Shelby County grand jury, an independent body, got it right,” Art Quinn said. “It is still disheartening that the attorney general saw it differently.”

Weirich, who declined interview requests Tuesday, said previously that a combination of facts led to her recommendation to charge the officer. “It’s not one particularly smoking … weapon that was the jump-out, gotcha piece of evidence,” she said. “But it was everything compiled by the TBI that was presented to us.”

Protesters: Common Core means teaching Islam

More than 100 people turned out at Vance Middle School in Bristol on Friday to protest teaching of Islam in public schools, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

Seventh-graders at Vance do study Islam and go over the five pillars of faith in a historical context and the curriculum also covers the foundations of Christianity and Judaism, school officials said. It’s part of the controversial Common Core curriculum, which is state-mandated.

According to Amy Scott, principal at Vance Middle School, administrators have taken great pains to ensure that all three religions are covered equally.

Protest organizer Patty Kinkead said she knew that the school system could not make changes to the Common Core curriculum, but the purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about what she believes is being taught.

“If we can enlighten two parents to what’s being taught then this has been a successful day,” Kinkead said. “We are hoping to create a spark so that other people will want to protest Common Core across the state. The protest is not about Vance Middle School or the teachers; it’s about Common Core and the teaching of Islam in the curriculum. ”

Kinkead removed her fourth-grader from the city school division and is home-schooling him because she’s opposed to Common Core.

Note: See also the Columbia Daily Herald, which has a story beginning thusly:

Maury County parents are expressing concern after their children came home with world history schoolwork containing references to Islam and its teachings. The school district contends the curriculum has been in place for more than three decades, and world history is difficult to teach without referencing religions.

TN Walking Horse rider accused of assaulting protester

A world champion Tennessee Walking Horse rider has been indicted for aggravated assault against a woman who was protesting animal abuse at a walking horse show in Maury County, according to the Columbia Daily Herald.

Jamie Lawrence, 42, of Vinemont, Ala., was charged with driving a truck in the direction of Teresa Bippen, 58, while she protested outside the Spring Jubilee at Maury County Park on May 30.

…Bippen and others were part of a demonstration against soring at Walking Horse shows. They were trying discourage attendance. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick” to impress judges.

“I am appreciative of the Maury County grand jury because I felt our rights to boycott were approved in advance,” Bippen said Thursday in a telephone interview from her home in Hillsboro, Mo. “I had a right to be where I was, and for anyone to take such a drastic action against me was scary.”

Lawrence, an expert rider and trainer in the Racking Horse division…”cut his truck hard left into the area where Ms. Teresa Bippen was standing,” Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Jackson wrote in a report. “Then he cut his wheels back hard right. I could not tell how close he came to Ms. Bippen.”

Jackson and two Columbia Police officers approached the truck, the report said.

“I asked the driver why in the world would he do that?” Jackson wrote. “He stated that he should not have.”
… In her witness statement, Bippen said Lawrence’s truck came directly at her after she saw him speaking with another protestor, Tara Taylor, about 10 feet away.

“I was surprised that he looked me directly in the eye,” Bippen wrote. “I raised my sign and said, ‘Big Lick, Big Lie’ and ‘Soring is Animal Abuse.’ I heard the motor gun, the vehicle sped up and suddenly turned toward me all at virtually the same time.

“I leaped to my right in order not to be run over, and I was grateful not to be hit. I recollect hearing the gravel crunch and seeing it scatter when the vehicle reached the edge of the road.”

…“The driver stopped his truck briefly,” Taylor, of Shelbyville, said. “He was very angry and yelled at me, ‘What right do you have to be here.’ I answered that I owned a Tennessee Walker. This seemed to further incite him and he yelled, ‘How do you know what I do to my horses’? I answered him that I had been to Walking Horse barns.”

Taylor said her interaction with Lawrence caused him to “to go into a red-faced rage.” She said he grabbed his steering wheel with both hands, gunned the engine and accelerated toward Bippen.

“I clearly remember thinking two things: One, OMG, he just swerved at her with malice, and, two, who would swerve so sharply on purpose while pulling a horse?” Taylor wrote.

Protesters give Gardenhire ‘Silver Spoon Award’ at GOP gathering

Item from a Times-Free Press ‘political notebook’:
A group of health-care activists interrupted dinner at the 2015 National Pachyderm Convention in the downtown Marriott on Saturday night.

Two women in evening gowns, carrying an oversized spoon and identifying themselves as a group called “Millionaires for Wealthcare,” took the stage and presented Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, with the “Silver Spoon Award” for “keeping health care in the hands of those who can afford it.”

Gardenhire has been the target of multiple demonstrations by activists since he voted against Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee bill, which would have extended health coverage to an estimated 280,000 low income Tennesseans.

Gardenhire didn’t respond, but some in attendance shouted catcalls at the intruders, who were quickly escorted out.

New TN logo draws national attention, critical petition

Tennessee’s new logo, developed for the Haslam administration at a cost of $46,000, has drawn the attention of a national advertising publication as well as a petition urging the governor to cancel it.

The headline on an AdWeek article says “Tennessee Wanted Consistency but Elicited Mockery With Its New Logo.” The story notes that Twitter commenters within the state have been generally critical of the logo, but includes this favorable commentary from a “branding expert:”

“I like it,” said Greg Klassen, principal at Twenty31 Tourism Consulting and a former top official with the Canadian Tourism Commission. “It feels very future-oriented. As my daughter would say, it’s got the abbrevs.”

Klassen gives Tennessee officials credit for “thinking differently about how the want to be perceived,” noting the effective regional branding is important for not just tourism but also investment and employment. But he also suggests the process should have been more inclusive, so people weren’t surprised by the new logo.

“A logo means nothing unless it’s backed up by emotion, by research,” he said. “I would hope for $46,000 a lot of that science went into this.”

The Change.org petition urging Haslam to abandon the new logo was initiated by Taylor Prince of Knoxville, according to Nashville’s WKRN-TV. The petition cites the “Tri-Star” logo now used by some state agencies, which depicts the three stars of the state flag and credits a Tennessee National Guard officer with developing it.

Says the petition, in part:

“The new logo will cost taxpayers $46,000 and will require more time and money to implement. Furthermore, the governor’s office should have reached out to state schools and colleges for the design change. This would have been undoubtedly less expensive and provided students and opportunity to influence their government. Please do not waste any more money on this poorly-designed logo.”

As of Monday, about 22,100 persons had signed the petition.)

Note: See also updated post on joke alternatives to the new logo, HERE.

Critic of new TN abortion laws sending pink knitted uterus to gov, legislators

According to The Tennessean, Gov. Bill Haslam will soon get an unexpected package in the mail — a pink knitted uterus.

Juliette Vincent of Antioch plans to mail knitted uteri to all male Tennessee lawmakers, beginning with Haslam, in rebuttal to the new law requiring women to wait 48 hours after counseling to get an abortion.

“It’s all an effort to focus on good things for our state rather than this,” Vincent said.

“It just makes it harder for women who don’t have the means. They’re not getting pregnant and saying, ‘Oh, let me get an abortion.’ There’s a lot of thought going into this.”

An avid knitter, she came up with the idea after a discussion on Facebook with a friend. Vincent then made the uterus during a crafting social event with friends.

Her message: “Let me give you a toy to play with. Let me remind you this is not important to you,” she said. “This is perfectly fine to leave alone.”

She hopes to “bring more attention to the idea more of the people making these laws first off are men and have no connection to this whatsoever,” she said.

Vincent sent Haslam’s uterus midday Friday, and assures other lawmakers will get their own uteri, too.

“I’m sending them to everyone, whether you’re in favor or against it,” she said. “If you’re a man, you get one.”

Lakefront property owners march in protest of TVA planting trees that could block their view

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which has come under fire in the past couple of years for trying to cut down too many trees along its transmission lines, was criticized in Knoxville today for a plan to plant trees and shrubs along the shoreline of Tellico Lake, reports the Times-Free Press.

More than a dozen lakefront property owners in the Tellico Village protested a TVA plan they said would block their views of the lake and undermine their home values. Resident of the Kahita subdivision at Tellico Village in Loudon Conty came to a TVA hearing today to picket the federal utility and to try to get the attention of TVA officials, who they claim haven’t been willing to meet with them about the concerns.

“This makes no sense and I think it will devalue these 15 houses by at least $2.5 million,” said Tom Boehm, a 10-year homeowner on Tellico Lake who came here today asking for a meeting with TVA to air the community’s concerns. “If TVA is interested in economic development, this is definitely the wrong thing to do.”

Boehm and the other protesters soon got their wish. TVA President Bill Johnson, who was here today to meet with Tennessee’s U.S. senators about the agency’s future power plans, came out to talk with the protesters and agreed to a future meeting.

“I plan to meet with them and hear their concerns, which is part of my job at TVA,” Johnson said.