Activist Threatened and Freedom of Speech Rights Violated
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2011
CONTACT: Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director, (615) 320-7142
MEMPHIS – ACLU of Tennessee today hand delivered a letter to City of Memphis officials demanding they respect the First Amendment rights of a local labor blogger. The letter insists that government immediately stop intimidation tactics and the demands to remove the blogger’s video of public events.
“The local government’s persecution of political speech they do not like is reprehensible and will not be tolerated. It is ironic that on the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, we are yet again faced with a situation where government is trying to silence speech by intimidation,” said ACLU-TN cooperating attorney Bruce Kramer.
The author of the blog, Tennessee Labor Coverage, has been covering labor issues surrounding attempts to dissolve the collective bargaining rights of sanitation workers in Memphis and the issue of privatization of sanitation services. He recorded and posted videos of public events where the issue was discussed. The blogger was harassed by various city officials for taping the events. In addition, Mayor Wharton of Memphis has stated publicly that the person behind the videos will “be dealt with.”
“We hope that Mayor Wharton and other city officials will recognize the value of transparency and support the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech which enhances political debate and ensures more thoughtful policies,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. “Attempting to silence the opposing voices by bullying and threats is not only dangerous and unconstitutional but creates an atmosphere much less conducive to the creation of good laws and policies.”
In addition to Kramer, the labor blogger who will remain anonymous is represented by Tricia Herzfeld, ACLU-TN Legal Director.
ACLU-TN’s letter can be found here.
The blog and videos can be viewed at: www.tennesseelaborcoverage.com
Additional information about the ACLU of Tennessee is available online at: www.aclu-tn.org.