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Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Forum on civil rights sparks protest rally for free speech

"Jackbooted thugs" draw protesters.

A forum set up to promote discussion on tolerance and understanding did not go as planned Tuesday night in Manchester.

Those that were part of "Public Discourse in a Diverse Society" open forum were met with very vocal opposition at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.

The event was described by Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of East Tennessee and guest speaker, as an educational effort about civil rights laws as they relate to freedom of religion, specifically the Muslim religion. The forum was also to inform the public of the federal laws regarding civil rights and the consequences of violating those laws.

However, critics saw the forum as an effort to crackdown on anti-Muslim speech.

Prior to the forum, hundreds of protestors rallied outside the conference center, organized by Pamela Geller, a well-known author, blogger, and political activist.

Many protestors held signs with messages of free speech.

The peaceful protest got heated when numerous protestors were turned away as the center reached capacity.

Those that made it inside showed a sign of unity when the forum began with the Pledge of Allegiance. But that unity was fleeting.

When Killian approached the podium, people booed and hissed.

When he tried to talk about hate crimes, he was nearly shutdown.

"Folks, I'm not going to fight this," he said.

The remark brought cheers.

Killian continued to speak.

His attempt to discuss the First Amendment as a right guaranteed to all citizens seemed to miss the mark.

The crowd cheered after Killian said, "In this country, hateful speech is allowed."

Killian went on to say, "But if that speech makes threats, it is not protected."
No mention of the Tea Party but I suspect that the same people were involved.

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