Protesters today under federal flags and sunny skies savage the attack by Mayor Berke against the city’s economic lifeblood during a Market Street bridge demonstration of their rising anger.
More than 150 people rally along the span over the Tennessee river as hundreds of motorists pass by during a two-hour span, honking approval and draping noisy signage from their windows. Across the state and in many other cities in the U.S. today, Americans are saying they’ve had enough quarantine coercion against people who aren’t even remotely likely to be sick with CV-19.
“We will not accept a forced depression,” bellows David Cardone with a megaphone. “Reopen your businesses. America is back. We will not bow down to the illegitimate and unconstitutional orders declared by Mayor Berke and Gov. [Bill] Lee.” His father and sister have been savaged by the depression, and are awaiting stimulus checks from the federal government.
Organizer Brandon Lewis, who runs an academy online for painting businesses, says the city has lost 20,000 jobs already — 200 jobs for every incidence of CV-19. One out of nine is unemployed now because of executive branches — state and local — have put the economy into cardiac arrest.
Kathy Eubanks, a retiree who still keeps a job, has been out of work six weeks. “I don’t have a lot of savings. It’s been difficult. Because I have a farm with animals that I take care of, and I don’t have anybody else to help me. It’s been very straining — not to mention many of my friends, who live paycheck to paycheck.”
It is time to organize, says Brandon Lewis, who says the protest details were ironed out only on Friday.
“People can’t retire,” he says in a microphone. “Businesses are going bankrupt. We are sacrificing so much of our liberty for just a little bit of safety — and it’s not real safety, it’s the promise of safety. We don’t know. The economic and civil liberty consequences are absolutely irrefutable and they are measurable. Everything else they’ve promised heretofore has not come to fruition. We don’t know if it’s working or not.”
Debbie Gwaltney reads aloud from the declaration of independence to any passing protester who deigns to hear her. “We are being held unfairly within our homes” and people should make their own decisions about their social life, she says. “If they choose not to do so, that is also right. But where their fear begins, my rights do not end.”
‘People have threatened to turn me in’
Meashell Stork is a barber. “I have an essential business now being called nonessential, and I just opened my business.” She feels she doesn’t need to wear a mask in “this supposed pandemic,” and that she has a right to cut hair. She wouldn’t say how much she’s lost in money. “Fortunately I feel I can get this business back. *** I’m invested in this business, so I need to be growing. I need to feel like that I don’t have to stay home.”
People “have threatened to turn me in,” Miss Stork says.
“People aren’t against the idea of social distancing or anything,” says Joshua Marshall. “But one thing you can’t do is say what you are doing is nonessential but I am doing is.”
One retiree hasn’t suffered directly from economic devastation. “But I know some people who have, and it’s devastating,” Wayland Minton says. “I’m afraid they will never open up again, it’s so bad.”
Chelsea Wells joins the protest with two small children, one at 16 months on her hip, another, 2 years, on her own two feet, toting a sign. She agrees with the analysis of Dr. Knut Wittkowski and other dissenting epidemiologists who say that wrecking the livelihoods of millions of people is wrong and that a year’s new virus naturally peters out in a few weeks once resistance develops in a population, starting with children in school who develop herd immunity.
“God created us with an immune system,” Mrs. Wells says. “And the way he created viruses, they have to go through a population while the elderly and the compromised stay in their homes. I think that would be a good solution. Let them stay ‘shelter in place’ while we get natural herd immunity. This thing would be over so fast if we did that.”
Jamaal Reynolds holds a Trump banner. “Keep America great again. We want to open Chattanooga back up to business,” he says. “I’m on the front line in health care. I do floor tech. Basically, I clean rooms that patients are in, to make sure they are clean, sanitized, sparkling all over again *** in a hospital.”
Cory Bandy, 24, is angry. He says the Centers For Disease Control botched initial tests, “and now they expect us to hang on their every word, and they expect local officials to do the same thing. I don’t believe that that’s necessary. I believe this is really an indictment on the government and not the people, and the people should not be punished for the government’s mistakes.”
About 45 cars fill the parking lot for the noonday worship service at Metro Tab today, with supervision by two Chattanooga police officers. Steve Ball preaches sermon and Adam Aziz sings for church members and visitors sitting in their cars. The church, organized as a corporation with a 501(c)3 tax exempt status, sued Mayor Berke and city government Thursday, citing abuses of constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Mayor Berke halfway relented Friday, saying he would allow Christians and worshipers on Sunday to gather — provided they followed his rules. “I have spoken to pastors from throughout our community,” he says in an email today, “who have assured me that they can operate ‘drive-in’ worship services safely, with spaces between the cars and no collection plates. The executive order I have signed this week permits drive-in church moving forward.”
When this reporter pulls into the Metro Tab parking lot and gets out of his car to take a photo, two officers come up to him and order him back into his car — or to get off the lot. They are evidently enforcing “distancing” during the service. But with the final benediction, they stand down and let people come and go on foot among cars as they turn on their motors, say farewell, and roll off the property. This sort of action is, legally, entirely capricious and arbitrary.
Neutron bomb detonation
Mayor Berke and Gov. Lee have affected a coup against constitutional government in Tennessee with scarce a whimper from among the people.
They have pivoted the state quarantine law in Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 68 against the healthy generally and not against the sick specifically, as law requires. They have swung the double barrels of the law away from the dangerous to the endangered, and rather than isolating the sick have moved to atomize society by decree, placing the citizenry under house arrest without lawful process.
They have acted to short-cut the due process requirements before imposing state power upon any citizen — that being a trial in sessions court to determine if one is subject to police power and state coercion as a recalcitrant contagious person.
They do not have police coercive powers apart from due process under medical emergency authority — but have imposed a scorched-earth policy within the ostensible global health panic of CV-19 and departicularized their control, aiming “executive orders” at people generally and shutting tens of thousands of businesses and bringing ruin to families and entrepreneurs in every neighborhood.
The ruin bought into the working man’s part of the economy is like a neutron bomb. Its effect is unlike that of tornadic winds that ripped through Brainerd one week earlier. With storms and regular nuclear bombs, buildings are flattened and trees stripped. Neutron bombs destroy by radiation. Their effect effect is to leave structures standing, but with no living creature in them — no prospect within of service, production, marketing, generation, sales or capitalization.
Prohibition of commerce and travel violates state law at Tenn. Code. Ann. 68-1-201. Statute requires Gov. Lee’s health commissioner Lisa Piercey to work to prevent the spread of a disease with “the least inconvenience to commerce and travel.”
Officials believe that if they declare an emergency, no law binds them — not even protections of the free exercise of religion, free assembly, due process, the rights to have the courts open and other provisions of the Tennessee constitution that guarantee a constitutional form of government.
No one has filed suit to stop the project overall, though this writer has drafted a two-page complaint to halt the emergency if a reader would like to pay the filing fee to get relief rolling in chancery.
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