Tag Archives: rawls

No Charges in Cleveland Sign-Ripping Case

A Bradley County man’s quest to have the Cleveland city manager and a councilman charged for ripping up his protests signs came to naught Tuesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Dan Rawls said Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph refused to issue criminal summonses for City Manager Janice Casteel or Councilman George Poe on charges of vandalism, criminal trespass and official oppression.
After meeting with the judge to make his request, Rawls said Randolph told him that even if he signed the papers, the prosecutor’s office was likely to dismiss the charges.
The two city officials ripped up protest signs Rawls posted in front of his business, Cleveland Performance Center, when Gov. Bill Haslam was appearing across the street on July 11. Rawls said the hand-painted sign saying, “Haslam, shame on u,” was to protest the governor’s support for Common Core educational standards.
Poe said afterward that the signs were an embarrassment to the city and that they were on city right of way.
Photos showed them near a stop sign and a utility pole, but it’s hard to determine whether they are within the 6-foot right of way

Common Core Protest Signs Taken Down at Haslam Event

A Cleveland, Tenn., businessman says city officials crossed a line when they tore down protest signs he posted outside his business Thursday during a visit by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
“There needs to be a public apology,” said Dan Rawls, owner of Cleveland Performance Center, for what he says is trespass and violation of his right to free speech. “I think they need to take a course in the Constitution to learn not only that you can’t violate private property rights, you can’t violate First Amendment rights.”
But City Councilman George Poe said Rawls is the one who crossed the line by planting the handmade signs on city right of way near the South Cleveland Community Center, where Haslam announced $570,000 in grants for the center and the Mouse Creek greenway.
“The governor came to give us a half-million dollars, and I thought that was pretty nice,” Poe said Friday. “We come out the door, and there’s signs all over the place painted on cardboard boxes in orange spray paint. … It was a pretty big embarrassment to us in the city,” Poe said Friday.
Rawls planted signs in the grass near the street in front of his business to protest Haslam’s support for the Common Core standards…K-12 education guidelines that Rawls calls a “federally run school system.”
“Shame on you Haslam,” one read. A smaller sign next to it said, “Stop CC.”
Poe said he went with City Manager Janice Casteel when she said the signs were on the public right of way. He said she called the police codes enforcement officer and began pulling up the signs.
Then, Poe said, “This big muscled-up guy, screaming, yelling, slinging his arms around,” came out of Rawls’ business and ordered him and Casteel off his property. Poe said he “thought he was going to give Janice a shove,” so he used the police radio he carries to call for help.
Rawls said he ordered Casteel and Poe to get off his property but didn’t in any way threaten them. Police showed up in force, but calm was restored quickly.
From photos, it’s hard to tell whether the signs are in the 6-foot city right of way.