A cornerstone of our civilization is equality before the law. When that crumbles, the rest will follow. This is why Affirmative Action and “hate crimes” legislation are not only unjust but alarming. It’s also why Richmond’s moonbat mayor Dwight Jones is sticking it to the pro-liberty Tea Party, even as he cuddles up to pro-communist Occupy Wall Street.
Demonstrating Tea Partiers paid their own way in Richmond, but when OWS came along, it characteristically ignored the law and stuck taxpayers with expenses. Since it evidently hadn’t been necessary to pay for permits and so forth after all, the local Tea Party sent the city a bill. Tea Partier Colleen Owens reports at Big Government:
[A]s reported on the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Richmond Tea Party delivered an invoice for charges incurred in our previous three Tax Day rallies at Kanawha Plaza because Mayor Jones chose to allow Occupy Richmond protesters to convene in the same park for two weeks.
The Mayor not only allowed the Occupiers to break the law, but he visited them in the city-owned park. … The blog Virginia Right reported that the city provided services such as portable toilets, trash pickup, etc. The incomplete invoices obtained from the city totaled $7,000. This was only a portion of the actual costs to taxpayers because the costs of police, helicopter and incarcerations were not included. Also not accounted for was the 24-hour police protection of the Mayor’s home after the Occupiers moved their camp next door to the Mayor’s house. The Richmond Tea Party, conversely, paid for all services for our rallies, including the police, portable toilets, park fees and permits, amounting to approximately $8,500.
Despite meeting with the Occucommie hooligans, Jones refused to see the law-abiding Tea Partiers. Then he hit them with a letter announcing an audit.
[I]t states that our Tea Party is delinquent in filing of Admissions, Lodging, and Meals Taxes with the city and as such our group has been targeted for a comprehensive audit. Well, aren’t we special? In fact, as part of the Business License we have with the City, a form is filled out by our treasurer every month (as required). We have never charged admission or had lodging or meals associated with our rallies. Every month the forms are appropriately filled with zeros. Ms. Carr goes on to say that if we don’t respond within 15 days, the City will make a statutory assessment — meaning they’ll pick an amount to charge us.
So the City and Mayor apparently feel that the Richmond Tea Party has not paid its fair share for use of Kanawha Plaza. We challenged the Mayor’s unequal treatment between groups and he responded with even more unequal treatment.
The idea of course is to intimidate the Tea Party into shutting up and going away. But that’s not going to happen.
This story has also fired up other Tea Party groups across the country that have had the laws and fees applied unequally in regards to Tea Party rallies and Occupy protest camps. The message coming from mayors in numerous cities is that they are willing to spend millions in taxpayer money to accommodate the Occupiers that are breaking the law but have no problem charging Tea Party groups that follow the law exorbitant fees and making them jump through hoops to acquire permits (via Yahoo News).
The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law. We stand for fiscal restraint, and this is a case where a mayor used taxpayer money for his personal agenda. We stand for virtue and accountability in government and that is why we have taken a stand. We will be submitting a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for all city correspondence pertaining to our Tea Party and its decision to audit us. We will not be intimidated and we will not back down.
On tips from Shawn, IslandLifer, Bob Roberts, and G. Fox.