Why The Ed Johnson Memorial Matters To Me, A Libertarian

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I have seen a lot of responses to the question of whether or not our city and county should financially support the Ed Johnson Memorial at the Walnut Street bridge. Some fully support government pitching in and some say that private individuals and civic organizations should pitch in. Both are correct. 

Our city has become a very sought after place to live. From our hometown feel, to the emerging tech sector and revitalized manufacturing base. In our city we also have a blend of conservative and progressive ideologies that seem to coexist quite well. This issue is something that should speak to both sets of beliefs. 

The Ed Johnson case not only had an effect on the people Chattanooga at the time but absolutely changed the role of the federal courts for all Americans.  Unfortunately many of us have been ignorant for too long as to the details of the case. 

In this country the ultimate protector of our rights is the Constitution. This document affirms that the individual is of the utmost importance, and neither local, state, nor federal governments are superior to the individuals right to life or liberty.  In this case Ed Johnson was accused of a crime that he didn’t commit; was tried by a hostile jury that was not made up of his peers, and was denied due process by a corrupt judge and sheriff seeking re-election. For the first time in its history the supreme court stepped in after he was sentenced to death and ordered the sheriff to protect mister Johnson so that he could be given a fair trial.  Unfortunately Sheriff Shipp, whose constitutional duty was to protect the rights of Ed Johnson, conspired with the judge to allow a lynch mob to hang Mr. Johnson. 

The Ed Johnson project merits support from all sides. The support from organizations like Black Lives Matter seems obvious. The NAACP is also a no brainer. The state and local bar associations have cause to celebrate the brilliant attorneys who have the distinction of being one of the first African- American attorneys to serve as lead counsel in a case before the United States Supreme Court, and in so doing putting their own lives on the line to protect their clients rights. The City and County as well should support this because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Our locals communities of faith can get behind men from this story like T.H. McCallie (recognize that name?) and many others who showed that the will and the bravery of good men who are willing to stand in the gap at risk to themselves can be more powerful than the hatred of a mob. 

Finally to my fellow libertarians and conservatives, if we say that we believe in the rights and protections that are provided in our founding documents to the individual, how can we keep silent. If we believe that the government serves to protect our rights how can we turn a blind eye to the injustices of the past that have been committed by that government. How can we not seek to show as an example the first time our federal government attempted to act as it should and protect the rights of the individual, and hold accountable elected officials who sought to set themselves above the law. 

It is not my intent to paint this case in a positive light. A decent man lost his life because of a corrupt sheriff and judge, and an ideology that saw him as less than his fellow citizens. But what can be brought from the acknowledgement of this part of our history is an understanding of where we have come from, how far we have progressed and how much farther we can go. All we have to do is see the issues that we can all agree on. That all men are created equal. That we all have a right to life and liberty. That we all have rights that should be defended even if we don’t see eye to eye about our points of view. That the courage to stand for what is right in the face of opposition no matter how vocal, or strong should be celebrated. And maybe, just maybe, if we listen to each other and find the common values that we all believe in, we can make our country, our state, our city and our neighborhoods, places that we can be proud of.

Scott Schrader



Chip Baker Is The Right Pick For District 2

I choose Chip Baker to be my representative for District 2 on the Hamilton County Commission. I choose Chip Baker because he is a strong supporter of public education. Build it and they will come. Signal Mountain residents had been dreaming of a high school for 50 years. Chip Baker played a pivotal role in bringing all the necessary parties together to make it happen. His 12 years ... (click for more)

Rosabelle Gorman Is A Leader

District 3 needs a leader, not a follower, and anyone who has listened to Rosabelle Gorman can attest that she is a person with fresh ideas and strong concerns about some of the past actions of the County Commission.  Being a young mother herself, she has a vested interest in improving the Hamilton County schools and the economic viability of new families facing the increasing ... (click for more)

State Democrats Refile Suit In Hamilton County Seeking To Keep Robin Smith Off The Ballot; Election Commission Calls Emergency Meeting

The Tennessee Democratic Party has refiled a lawsuit seeking to keep former state GOP Chairman Robin Smith off the ballot in the Aug. 2 primary ballot. In response, the Election Commission has called an emergency meeting for Monday at 9 a.m. The case has been assigned to Chancellor Pam Fleenor. State Democrats are asking for an expedited hearing. Ms. Smith was ... (click for more)

Senator Corker Calls Judge Kavanaugh "A Superb Nominee"

 Senator Bob Corker on Thursday called Judge Brett Kavanaugh "a superb nominee" for the U.S. Supreme Court.   He made the statement after meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.   Senator Corker said, “I had a great meeting today with Judge Kavanaugh and think he is a superb nominee. It is inspiring to me to see ... (click for more)

UTC Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger Resigns

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton announced the resignation of wrestling head coach Heath Eslinger today.  Eslinger, who spent nine seasons as head coach of his alma mater, informed Wharton of his decision this morning.  "It was always my hope that Heath Eslinger spend the rest of his career leading our wrestling ... (click for more)

Vols' Nigel Warrior Named To Bednarik Award Watch List

Tennessee junior defensive back  Nigel Warrior  has been named to the 2018 Bednarik Award Watch List. Warrior is the first Vol to be named to the Bednarik Watch list since the defensive trio of Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cameron Sutton were named to the Bednarik's preliminary list in 2016.   Warrior totaled 83 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss ... (click for more)