Making the public aware… Potential exists for a protest rally in Elizabethton on Saturday
BY IVAN SANDERS
Saturday will be a day that many will gather in downtown Elizabethton to enjoy spending the afternoon taking a peek under the hoods of the many vehicles that will be pulling into town for the downtown Cruise-In while celebrating the Fourth of July – Independence Day.
However, this week the Star received an email with a heads up that a potential protest rally in support of Black Lives Matter may take place at the Covered Bridge at 5 pm. Some of the participants are expected to be members of the New Panthers.
After receiving the email, the Star reached out to City Manager Daniel Estes and Police Chief Jason Shaw to verify if any word had been received by the City of such a protest taking place.
“The Elizabethton Police Department is aware that individuals have stated they intend to protest in Elizabethton on July 4,” stated Estes in his response. “We have not had any of the protesters reach out regarding their plans, request any permits, or reserve any public parks for their exclusive use.
“However, traditional public forums like parks and sidewalks are available for anyone to use, including those who wish to peacefully protest.”
With the events that have recently transpired this week in Johnson City, the question was posed if there had been any preparations made in the event that such a protest would take place.
“There are plans in place regarding the Saturday car show, which is an event previously approved for downtown on Elk Avenue,” commented Estes. “It is our sincere hope that all who gather in the downtown area on Independence Day do so peaceably, and the city government is making plans to facilitate that.”
With what has been seen in the recent events in nearby locales, there obviously is some concern if members of the community might respond to such a protest differently than what occurred in neighboring locations.
The Constitution of the United States provides for peaceably assemble and freedom of speech and the City of Elizabethton has the same viewpoints when it comes to the rights given to each individual.
“We hold in high regard every individual’s rights, including the “freedom of speech, … peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” Estes stated in his response.
“We ask that everyone exercise restraint and respect others’ rights while exercising their own.”