Occupy Jackson's appeal of a protest permit was denied by the Jackson City Council.
Members of the group spent Monday occupying Jackson city hall. They are appealing the city's decision not to grant them an extension on a protest permit for Smith Park. Their old permit expired on November 10th, which allowed them 24-hour access to the park. The group was trying to occupy Smith Park until December 26.
During public comments, several Occupy Jackson members spoke including Jacob McGregor who said "I ask now that you members of the council stand by us and help make this city a better place where a mans worth is no longer judge by the color of his skin, or the money in his pocket."
Occupy Jackson is still protesting at Smith Park, just during daylight hours. The park closes at dusk, forcing them out nightly, interfering with their true goal to occupy.
Occupy member Nathan Barnes says, "We have the right to petition government and that shall never be impaired, which does not mean shall never be impaired except at dark when the park closes."
After much debate, the council decided to not grant another 24 hour permit, instead putting the discussion of a conditional permit in their planning committee.
Council members are split on racial lines on whether occupy should get a permit. At one point, the debate became out of control after council member Chokwe Lumumba said, "He couldn't have said that better if he was Bilbo himself." (Referring directly to comments made by Councilman Quentin Whitwell who then became visibly upset.)
Later Lumumba commented saying, "They have a right to protest as long as I don't feel the issue or the manner of the protest is detrimental to the health and welfare of the people of Jackson."
Whitwell responded saying, "They don't have any need for 24 hour ,7 day a week permit. All it does is invite mischief and problems."
Former Jackson Mayor Kane Ditto, who owns a building near the park, voiced his concern the protestors could attract vagrants and other problems.
So far, the group has no major complaints from police. Their right to sleep in the park will be discussed during the planning committee meeting Tuesday.
Copyright 2011 WLBT. All Rights Reserved.
©2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.