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Dallas1Story By: Darwin Campbell,

African-American News&Issues

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

The Dallas “Mad Men” trampled on its citizens and sent a strong message that their feelings, opinions and voice are not welcome at city hall.

Only five of 15 council representatives stood up for the people and the rights of citizens to come to city hall to voice their ideas and concerns using their First Amendment rights during open microphone.

Those “Friends of Free Speech” who boldly support First Amendment Rights and oppose Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other council colleagues who pushed the measure through were District 2 Adam Medrano, District 6 and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo, District 7 Carolyn Davis, District 10 Jerry Allen and District 14 Philip Kingston.

Voting against the measure was Mayor Mike Rawlings, Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, District 3 Vonciel Jones Hill, District 4 Dwaine Caraway, District 5 Rick Callahan, District 9  Sheffie Kadane, District 11 Lee Kleinman, District 12 Sandy Grayson, and District 13 Jennifer Gates.

Taxpayers, voters and constituents should be outraged at the notion of controlling access to Democracy.

“This sets a bad tone with the people of this city and does a disservice to our citizens,” Davis said. “I support freedom of speech, but some have forgotten why they are here. 

We are elected by the people and don’t have the right to deny people free speech or limit their  ability to express their opinions.”

Kingston agreed with Davis stating that the action is irresponsible, Un-American and gives a Black-eye and a “shiner” to the city’s reputation.

“This looks bad for the council. Business and people have choices when it comes to being a friendly places to live,” he said. Forbes just made us a great place to live and do business, but I am afraid limiting citizens rights at city hall sends the wrong message.

Allen and Medrano could not be reached for comment about the vote.

In question was Agenda item No. 68 is a resolution to amend the rules for citizen speakers appearing before the council. It only allows citizens to only appear and speak to the council during the “open microphone” period only once time every 30 days. Talk time at the mike usually lasts an average of about three minutes.

According to the resolution document, the key focus of the proposal is allegedly to have more efficient, effective and economical government. (a government that obviously wants little to no input from its electorate).

However, the real truth, according to dissenting council members, is that the mayor and those voting against free speech did not want to hear opinions and thoughts of citizens and community leaders who would come to talk about issues from the various districts. They simply could not handle criticisms.

“This is a civil rights issue,” Davis said. “Imagine the 1960s if we were limited and left out of the system. Where would we be? Our opportunity came because of freedom of speech.”

Whether is was Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Fannie Lou Hamer or Ida B. Wells-Barnett, free speech has always been the crowning achievement of democracy. It is why the American Revolution started and the fight for Independence was so fierce.

It is the reason that Patrick Henry sounded the alarm against tyrants and loyalists in England who wanted to stop the mouths of those crying for freedom and relief in the land.

Dallas has trampled on the First Amendment, freedom and democracy and shows no shame putting its feet on the neck of its citizens.

The “Rawlings Posse” is taking it upon itself to ride through the streets with a loud clear message shouting, “Don’t come to Dallas City Hall – You Are Not Welcome and We Don’t want your opinions.”

Should the city of Dallas be allowed to get away with snuffing out community voices and telling citizens and community leaders to go take a hike?

“This is 2014 and we are going backwards,” Davis said. “You can’t limit people because you don’t like what they say. It is their voice whether we like it or not.”

Kingston agreed. “This does not fix a thing and may set us up to be sued. The council has traded off some short term relief, but have done some long term damage to local democracy,”