The way the mayor and police chief in Richmond are handling the controversy over the blatant double standard regarding protests shows how much some venues have become governments of men and not of laws.
In addition to charging an arm and a leg to Tea Party activists for three gatherings in the past, the city made them jump through numerous bureaucratic hoops. But the Occupy Richmond rabble have had carte blanche to occupy city parks, make a mess of everything and flout the law, all without any fee or hoops to jump through:
Why police have not already removed the protesters is not clear. A section of the city’s code makes it “unlawful for any person to camp, tent, encamp or quarter upon any public grounds, parks, playfields, playgrounds or any public property owned or maintained by the city.”
In March, the code was used to break up a group of 20 anarchists and homeless people who had set up camp in Monroe Park near Virginia Commonwealth University for more than a week to bring attention to homeless issues. Eight people were charged with, and later convicted of, remaining in the park after dark.
A spokesman for Richmond police was unavailable for comment.
I heard on the TV news tonight that Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones has scoffed at the Tea Party’s request for a refund of the $10,000 they had to pay the city for their gatherings. Reportedly, he says he is sympathetic with the Occupy Richmond demonstrators because of his ties to the civil rights era.
It’s nice to see the Democratic mayor be so committed to enforcing the laws without fear or favor. When politicians let their personal preferences and biases dictate what laws will be enforced, then there is no law. Richmond’s voters need to remember that at the next municipal election. And the next mayor should have a long talk with the police chief, and show him the door, too, if he doesn’t have an attitude adjustment.
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