Felix Hunziker: Who will defend our civil rights?

blogimage.jpgCouncilwoman Jovanka Beckles is proposing a rule that infringes on our uniquely American First Amendment right and which would have seen her own RPA cohorts kicked out of Council chambers back when they were advocating for their interests.

Several years ago I asked then Mayor's-aide Marilyn Langlois for RPA activists Juan Reardon, Andres Soto and others to stop using inflammatory language like "Nazi" and "poverty pimp". Their behavior from the audience was dividing the community and keeping more peaceable residents away from the Council meetings. Langlois' response: "they're just being emotional". Fast-forward to today, the moment an audience member utters any disagreement towards the Mayor or Beckles they are immediately removed from the chamber under police escort. Could the double standard be any more glaring?

Allowing a majority bloc to ban the very behavior that brought them into power is outrageous and because it impacts everyone's rights it's even more offensive than the couple of psychopaths it purports to silence. How long do you think famous protest leaders like Mario Savio, Dr. King, and Cesar Chavez would have lasted in the Richmond City Council chamber before being banned for "disruptive" behavior? And how will progressives make their voices heard if the Council turns conservative this November? 

Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles is flirting with totalitarianism by prohibiting the very freedoms she once enjoyed and swore to uphold. Happy Independence Day, my fellow Richmond residents of all political persuasions. Enjoy it while you can.

Felix Hunziker

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