County Evicts Occupiers From County Courthouse Lawn; County Withdraws Federal Lawsuit

Monday, March 19, 2012

A large contingent of officers from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and county parks and recreation swooped down on the longtime occupiers of the County Courthouse lawn on Monday afternoon. The dozen or so tents that had been set up on the lawn for several months were taken off in the unannounced strike.

The County Commission earlier had gone to Federal Court on Jan. 10 to seek to get a ruling evicting the protestors. But there had not yet been a ruling, and the county on Monday asked that the lawsuit be withdrawn "in light of changed circumstances rendering the petition moot."

The County Commission also passed new rules against overnight camping on certain county property on Jan. 4 and the state Legislature later passed a similar bill. 

In the raid around 2 p.m., the officers first put bags over nearby parking meters. Then they began carrying off the tents.

Normally, in the daytime there are few members of Occupy Chattanooga at the site. More assemble at night.

Officials noted it was time for the annual spring sprucing up of the courthouse lawn. Portions of the lawn are now bare where tents were placed or the protestors held their assemblies around campfires.

'The Chattanooga Police Department will by no means stop anyone from standing or sitting on sidewalks who is peacefully protesting. However, city code is clear that no one shall obstruct a sidewalk and there shall be no structures, tents, camps, or fires on city property," said Chattanooga Police spokesman Nathan Hartwig.

A number of protestors at the site were from out of town. 

Occupy Chattanooga had been camped on the courthouse lawn since Nov. 1, 2011.

Occupy Chattanooga officials said, "Occupiers were not given any warning. Protestors exited their tents to find a Hamilton County Sheriff's deputy standing in front of each tent. There were about 15 officers present to remove the camp. The occupiers were ordered away from the tents, not allowed to gather or touch any of their property. Deputies removed the tents, pallets, personal items and other property of the camp and placed it on the city-owned sidewalk in front of the courthouse. The tents were searched before deputies removed them, despite occupiers repeatedly telling deputies they did not consent to a search of their property."

Occupiers said they questioned Sheriff Jim Hammond and he referred all questions to Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry, stating that it was he who had ordered the eviction.

The Occupies said, "Hammond could not cite the law under which the eviction was taking place or produce any paperwork ordering the eviction.

"Occupiers contend that some property was damaged and lost during the eviction process. At least one lock on a tent was cut, some tent poles were snapped and two Sony radios are missing.

"Following the eviction, deputies and public works employees placed an orange plastic fence around the Occupy Chattanooga site and deputies remain on patrol around the courthouse to keep occupiers from re-entering the area.

"Shortly after the eviction, Occupy Chattanooga learned that the county had the same afternoon filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit it had filed against the protestors, seeking the court's approval to remove the camp.

"Occupy Chattanooga condemns the county's actions and believes the county acted as it did because it knew it could not win the lawsuit on constitutional grounds. Occupy Chattanooga is consulting with its attorney, David Veazey and Public Citizen of Washington D.C., to determine what its next legal action will be.  "

A General Assembly was held at 5:30 Monday afternoon on the Hamilton County Courthouse steps. The General Assembly decided to remain in a 24-hour vigil on the Hamilton County Courthouse property. The next General Assembly will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

 


Police Chief Fletcher Announces Picks For Top Leadership

Police Chief Fred Fletcher Wednesday made his picks for top leadership, releasing the names of 15 newly promoted individuals from within the Chattanooga Police Department. This announcement comes several weeks after Chief Fletcher was appointed.  “I am honored to announce today’s promotions," said Chief Fletcher.  "Together these individuals have served our community ... (click for more)

Corker Says Probe To Point Directly At Russia

Appearing on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown on Wednesday to discuss the missile strike on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, Senator Bob Corker said the investigation is “going to point directly at Russia.” He said there is bipartisan support for the U.S. “to act alone without Europe” in expanding existing sanctions against significant Russian entities in the energy, financial ... (click for more)

The Truth From Weston’s Sister - And Response (3)

I try not to read the negative articles and opinions about my older brother. Growing up around politics, I learned a long time ago that thick skin is not only necessary, it’s paramount. But this time, the lies and the rumors and the inaccurate information has gone too far. It’s too ridiculous for me to ignore. So let’s clear a few things up: Weston and I do not “come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Say It Ain't So, Larry Joe!

Larry Joe Wheelon, the tainted horse trainer who was charged with 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty when his barn was raided in April of 2013 and some animals were sored so badly that they could barely walk, finally went to a court hearing in Blount County on Wednesday and his steps toward Judge Tammy Harrington’s bench were decidedly heavy. My goodness, yours would have been ... (click for more)

Mocs Picked First In SoCon Polls

The Chattanooga Mocs football team is the pick of litter in the Southern Conference. Coming off its first league title since 1984, the SoCon coaches and media deemed the Mocs the team to beat in 2014.   “It means we have good players,” Head Coach  Russ Huesman  said. “There is a long way to go from now until late November (when the regular season ends). ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy's Wright Commits To MTSU Baseball

Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University. Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman. “I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright ... (click for more)