In your article “Occupy Richmond Takes Over City Hall," you indicated that Councilman Marty Jewel is preparing an ordinance that would “… designate Kanawha Plaza as a free speech zone.” Councilman Jewel should know that our First Amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly doesn’t include the right to have sleepovers in public parks. In fact the city, as well as the state and federal governments have an obligation to protect their citizens as stated in the opening paragraph of our Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves, and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”
If someone were attacked during a Kanawha Plaza sleepover how long do you think it would take for the City of Richmond to be sued for not protecting “the general welfare” of that person or persons? Isn’t that why we don’t allow “camping, encamping, sleeping, tenting and lying on beaches” in city parks after dusk?
You don’t need a free-speech zone to maintain our right to freedom of speech, but it is a good idea for parks to be closed after dark to insure domestic tranquility.