When Anthony Gonzales of the Occupy Movement requested permission to schedule a protest on the Brown County, Kansas, courthouse square in Hiawatha, the county commissioners turned him down. They were concerned that people would think they supported the Occupy Movement or that they were taking anyone’s side.
"Why do we want to be involved in either side of this issue?" one commissioner said. "We could get some bad press on it any way we went."
Refusing to permit a demonstration just because it might be controversial does “take sides” – against the U. S. Constitution.
The movement, which started with Wall Street, has gone worldwide as people of all political stripes protest corporate and political oligarchies. But in Brown County, Kansas, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” – guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment – is being denied by three men who are more concerned about appearances than democracy.
Tell the commissioners to issue a permit for the Occupy Movement and to respond positively in the future when people want to exercise their constitutional right to free speech.
- Brown County, KS, Commissioners
One of our most cherished rights is the right to gather to protest to try to effect change in our society. When you denied the Occupy Movement a permit to protest in the courthouse square, you trampled on that right. Worse, you did so for no legitimate reason; you merely wished to avoid controversy.
Denying anyone the full and free exercise of our shared constitutional rights is always controversial.
I strongly oppose your denial of the right to protest. The Occupy Movement should be granted the permit, and the public officials of Brown County, Kansas, should from now on give their unqualified support to our constitutional liberties at every opportunity.
Bryon Cannon started this petition with a single signature, and now has 70 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.