In watching the developing story of Occupy Nashville yesterday and this morning, I was reminded of the Tennessee Tax Protest of 2001.
From July 23, 2001 reported in the LA Times:
As key Democrats and Republicans huddled behind closed doors trying to break an impasse over a proposed new Tennessee income tax, 2,000 protesters rushed up the Capitol steps, screaming, “No means no!” and smashing a few windows.
Although Wikipedia is by no means an only source, there is a long story of the history of the movement.
Here’s a bit more from a decade ago from CNN.
Nearly 200 demonstrators, setting off air horns and chanting, “No new tax,” crowded the steps of the Capitol early Thursday evening. CNN affiliate WTVF reported that demonstrators broke windows in the building and vandalized Gov. Don Sundquist’s office.
And from a right leaning site (yes, WorldNetDaily makes me weary and a bit nauseous) on the roles of Phil Valentine and Steve Gill.
But the hopes of income tax supporters were dashed when two of Nashville’s competing talk radio stations, WLAC and WTN, joined forces and served as the catalyst for opposition to the legislative proposal.
Speaking to WorldNetDaily and barely audible above the virtually non-stop horn honking, WLAC’s morning show host Steve Gill gestured to the standstill traffic encircling the state capitol and said, “Do you hear that? That’s the sound of freedom.”
Phil Valentine, Gill’s afternoon show counterpart, chided legislators on-air for conducting most of the legislative discussion regarding the state budget behind closed doors.
“If this is such good public policy, why are they afraid to do it in public?” Valentine asked.
Now here is what is happening when you get out of the Tardis 10 years later.
We have Occupy Wall Street which has grown all around the country and last night protesters ran smack dab into government interference from the Haslam Administration. At 3 A.M. they were arrested and detained for several hours at a state park, which Legislative Plaza is.
So here are my thoughts which you can take or leave. That pesky First Amendment is messy and it was designed to be. It is our most constitutional right to say we disagree with our government and that we have the right to say it, that we have the right to assemble peacefully. Even the language of the First Amendment is startling clear and doesn’t stutter and it is completely explicit in its message. It’s actually rather beautiful. Our forefathers made it the first one and it’s an important one. The Tennessee Tax Protest and Occupy Nashville are example when folks decided to use their unalienable right to assemble and protest.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Each American has this right no matter what the issue might be that they feel passionately about. History is a good thing. From the Freedom Riders to the Tennessee Tax Protest to Occupy Nashville, we are watching America in motion.