The Richmond Tea Party along with the rest of the tea party movement is very much about getting back to the basics of our founding documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Because of our commitment to constitutional adherence we obviously respect the First Amendment rights of the Occupy Richmond group and any other citizen or organization.
The Richmond Tea Party does, however, object to the obvious bias by the City of Richmond’s favoring one group’s First Amendment rights over another’s. The City of Richmond is allowing Occupy Richmond to blatantly break the law day after day while forcing our group to strictly comply. One of the basic principles of our country is that laws should be applied equally. It seems that our city officials have decided that this principle doesn’t apply to the Occupiers.
The Richmond Tea Party has held its Tax Day Rallies for the past three years at Kanawha Plaza. We had to start the process weeks in advance in order to obtain the numerous permits required. The city dictated how many police officers had to be present whose salaries we had to pay (even though we had our own volunteer security). The city also dictated the number of portable toilets that we had to rent, even the number that had to be handicap accessible. We had to have emergency personnel and a defibrillator on site. If any food was sold, we needed a permit from the Health Department. We were also required to purchase a one million dollar liability insurance policy to protect the city from any bodily injuries or property damage. Finally, we had to pay for the use of the park for one day.
Occupy Richmond has had to do none of this.
In keeping with the principles of our founders the Richmond Tea party has decided to rectify this blatantly unequal application of the laws—including punishing us for being law-abiding citizens and rewarding the Occupiers for ignoring the law—by sending an invoice to the Mayor’s office of the City of Richmond for a full refund of all charges we paid for our three previous rallies. We hope the city will honor the trust people have empowered them with and faithfully adhere to the principle of equal application of the law by refunding our money for the use of Kanawha Plaza in the past. Richmond Tea Party will also be discussing this issue with an attorney.