We followed the rules, we followed the law, we got all the permits, we paid all the fees, we had to jump through all the hoops that they asked us to.
~Colleen Owens, spokeswoman, Richmond TEA Party
|Richmond Tea Party|
Now one Tea Party group is shoving back, politely and within the law, of course.
From the PJ Tatler, via The Camp of the Saints.
Like other Tea Party groups, the Richmond (VA) Tea Party has played by the rules. They paid permit fees to hold their rallies, they paid for the extra police and portajohns that such rallies demand. In all, they’ve paid $10,000 for their rallies to the local government.Colleen Owens, spokeswoman for the Richmond TEA Party, has pointed out, "the Occupy Richmond protesters are not being asked to pay for the park they are camped out in, nor are they paying for police or portable toilets. Not only that, the Occupy protesters reportedly have not paid for permits nor are they being required to pay for emergency personnel."
"If that’s how they’re going to run the city," Owens says, "then they owe us our fees back."
So the Richmond TEA Party plans to invoice the City of Richmond for the $10,000 they shelled out to conduct their demonstrations according to the law.
Good move, Richmond Tea Party! This kind of action puts the lie to local government claims that they don't exert huge discretionary power when deciding who must obey the law--and who doesn't need to bother.
"It’s not fair," said Owens, "the City of Richmond’s picking and choosing whose First Amendment rights trump someone else’s First Amendment rights." Nor is it fair that the TEA Party is being "punished for following the law."
So, how will the City of Richmond respond?
Bruce W. Tyler, a Richmond City Councilman, had some thoughts on the subject. "I guess we'll be writing a check to the tea party people. . . . You can't treat one group different from the other. It's unfair."
For the tea party to request the "same consideration, I believe, is fair and just," Tyler added. "We've now hit the slippery slope that we never should have found ourselves on."
Tyler went on to say that by not enforcing city ordinances, Richmond is "clearly advocating what's going on down there."
[B]y not enforcing ordinances already in place, the city is "clearly advocating what's going on down there" and putting itself in a position of potential liability if one of the protesters gets injured or worse, Tyler said.
At least one person already has been injured at the plaza.Meanwhile, Richmond's mayor's office remains quiet as the Mummy's tomb, waiting for the Richmond Tea Party's invoice for $10,000 to arrive in the mail--and, no doubt, waiting for a return call from the city attorney.