Camping ordinance Council meeting: the real elephant in the room

Last night I attended the Asheville City Council meeting where the highly charged "camping ordinance" was to be discussed. There were many arguments for and against the ordinance. City Council listened patiently while an impassioned audience expressed their views, which did not always fit the discussion at hand. The audience listened restlessly as an ordinance that is so clearly going to effect them was surely going to be put off to another meeting at another time.

The camping ordinance does have far-reaching effects way beyond the "occupy" movement. As one City Council member pointed out, it could affect the homeless and even people camping out on city property to buy advance concert tickets. Council did a fairly good job of balancing the concerns of those present to stop the ordinance and truly consider the actual "safety and sanitation" issues involved.

What I feel was not addressed, however, was the elephant in the room: where are these ordinances coming from? If you are following the Occupy movement, it is easy to assume that these ordinances are coming from centralized government efforts to contain and eliminate the movement. Nationwide and almost simultaneously these ordinances are springing up and giving the local police a reason to detain and arrest protesters, sometimes with freedom-shaking methods. This ordinance is about more than safety and I think everyone in the room, including Council, knows that.

This is a polarized issue. What Council must ask itself is, “do we support the Occupy message or even the right of freedom of expression at a critical time in our history?” If so, perhaps you can find a happy medium that will allow protesters to continue their plight and not use the cover of safety issues to disband a dedicated group expressing their First Amendment rights.

— Tom Whittington

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5 thoughts on “Camping ordinance Council meeting: the real elephant in the room

  1. Yes, I support the right to life, liberty and interminable camping by self-indulgent anti-capitalist nihilists at the public’s expense.

    • Barry Summers

      This is the point in the thread where the conversation became uncivil.

    • bill smith

      “self-indulgent anti-capitalist nihilists at the public’s expense”

      I agree with all those descriptors, expect the last. Can’t blame Occupy for police overtime to stand around videotaping people.

  2. martinv

    Considering that the world has broken another record for warmest year and record ice melt, our economy is predicated on perpetual growth, and our government colludes to enrich the fantastically wealthy while leaving 48% of Americans in or near poverty(according the latest census data) perhaps we could get past a dogmatic knee jerk celebration of capitalism. The marriage between capitalism and democracy is at a divorce and it always was a rocky union. The future of state socialism and American capitalism is to be found in the common elements we share with China. Mass unresponsive bureaucracy, militarism, nepotism, and a destructive, unsustainable for many reasons economy… For your information, libertarians are a hundred years older than these ‘Austrian school economists”, rooted in a decentralized, egalitarian, anticapitalist tradition. To return an insult, stop being a self aggrandizing, rightwing nutjob. The ‘capitalism’ you ‘libertarians’ describe never existed. Good day.
    -a well meaning anticapitalist

  3. Dionysis

    “Yes, I support the right to life, liberty and interminable camping by self-indulgent anti-capitalist nihilists at the publicТs expense.”

    Who cares? Same BS from you time after time. Move to Singapore as you tried to get others to do in 2008.

    To repeat from a couple of weeks ago: you’d be the protester’s biggest defender if they were carrying Ayn Rand and pro-capitalism signs. It’s not that they are protesting, it’s WHAT they are protesting that galls you. Face it; the Utopian nonsense you use as an excuse to bash everything is just that…a flimsy excuse to whine about having to pay taxes and to provide an easy excuse to complain.

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