Those of you who support Occupy Winston-Salem likely already know that the group has gone out of their way to work with city officials to find a reasonable and legal avenue to demonstrate and hold public forums against the mounting inequities between the haves and have-nots. Most recently, the group held a public forum on the lawn of city hall. According to current city ordinance, any group may hold an open-air meeting on city property.
Although they were clearly within their rights, this peaceful group was broken up several times by city and county police who attempted to narrow the definition of a public forum. Now, some members of the Winston Salem city council have proposed changing the ordinance to intentionally suppress free speech.
Preventing this irresponsible, reprehensible, and undemocratic tactic by those who are supposed to represent the people is perhaps the most important event thus far in our local Occupy movement. But even if you are not an Occupy supporter, I implore you to stand up for everyone’s right to free speech and public discourse.
Regardless of your political leanings, this is a time for ACTION! What can you do?
1) Contact each and every city official listed below and let them know you expect them to do the right thing and NOT suppress free speech in Winston-Salem. Emails and phone numbers for the Mayor and council members appear at the end of this email. Or, if you like, feel free to cut and paste from the message below.
2) Send this email to every friend, acquaintance, and family member you have and ask them to do the same.
3) BE THERE on January 3rd to make your opinion known:
1/3/2012: City Council Meeting
7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Room 230 2nd Floor, City Hall
Example email that you may use as a template or example:
“Allen Jones, Mayor” , “Dan Besse” , “Vivian Burke” , “Denise Adams” “Robert Clark” , “Derwin Montgomery” , “Molly Leight” ,
“Wanda Merschel” , “James Taylor”
VOTE “NO” TO LIMITING FREE SPEECH!
Dear Elected Officials of Winston-Salem,
I am appalled at Councilman Dan Besse’s proposal to change the ordinance allowing open air meetings on city property. The ability to hold public forums is a fundamental aspect of free speech, and placing limits on all citizens’ rights in order to suppress the freedom of one group is simply short-sighted. The proposal chips away at our constitutional right to free speech. This is a slippery slope toward the loss of democracy.
You were elected in order to uphold the values and freedoms of our people. Limiting free speech strikes at the very heart of who we are as a country and is in direct contradiction to all that we value.
I implore you to do the right thing and join some of your brave colleagues that oppose this draconian attempt to squelch the voice of your people. What you do now will be your legacy.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR WINSTON SALEM GOVERNMENT:
Allen Jones: email@example.com 727-2058
City Council members:
Dan Besse: firstname.lastname@example.org 722-1674
Vivian Burke: email@example.com 661-6460
Denise Adams: firstname.lastname@example.org 757-0036
Robert Clark: email@example.com 416-0190
Derwin Montgomery: firstname.lastname@example.org 245-1088
Molly Leight: email@example.com 725-4325
Wanda Merschel: firstname.lastname@example.org 722-6092
James Taylor, Jr: email@example.com 757-2210