Archived Story

UPDATE: Protest request raises safety concern

Published 11:00pm Friday, August 23, 2013

***** UPDATE 8/25: Per Henderson, the protest has been postponed until sometime in September.

*** UPDATE: 8/23 The protest will go on at noon on Monday across from TES, according to Henderson.

A city councilwoman’s planned protest across the street from Troy Elementary School may be cancelled after the City of Troy denied a permit request.

Dejerilyn King Henderson had announced the protest to be held at 7 a.m. Monday as a way to “keep the issue at hand in the limelight.” Henderson helped facilitate a federal lawsuit by three parents claiming a Troy City Schools practice that allows parents to request children be placed in certain classrooms is racist.

A letter denying the permit, signed by Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves, notes that recommendations from relevant department heads – including Police Chief Jimmy Ennis – raised various concerns about her request.

“The primary concern is the safety of the school children who attend the school and who are being dropped off and picked up at the school,” Reeves wrote.

Reeves wrote that he was willing to grant permission to conduct a peaceful demonstration between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. “Your request for the demonstration to occur at 7 a.m. is not workable and will put children in danger,” Reeves said.

He added, “To protect the safety and well-being of the children, it would be preferable for you to reconsider your request and choose a different site.”

In his recommendation to the mayor, the police chief Ennis wrote, “It would never be my decision to deny anyone or any group their right to assemble peaceably. Due to the many safety issues at this time of the morning I have a responsibility as the Chief of Police to consider everyone’s safety. I believe a more appropriate time could be arranged for this event.”

Henderson doesn’t believe it is a concern for safety that is blocking her application for a 7 a.m. protest.

“I believe they are just angry at me,” Henderson said. “This is not about the location. This is strictly about the fact that they don’t want publicity.”

Henderson said the time of the event was chosen not only so parents would see protest signs as they dropped children off in the morning, but also so interested college students and parents and community members who work could participate.

Reeves said late Friday his concern was driven by the safety issues. “I believe very strongly in the right to peaceably assemble, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the cause,” Reeves said. “I just can’t allow a dangerous situation for the children, parents or officers … The point of a protest is to garner attention. And if a walker (student), driver or crossing guard was distracted at that time of day with all the traffic it would be very dangerous to all concerned.”

As of Friday evening, Henderson said she wasn’t sure if the protest would go on between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., or if the event would be cancelled.

 

  • Southernboy

    I totally support Mayor Reeves’ decision that this would be a safety issue. As a former teacher and now a councilwoman, Ms. Henderson should be aware that this would be a safety issue if she has any knowledge of the taffic flow in this area at this time of the morning. In addition, a protest of any sort by an adult at an elementary school is setting a poor example for children as well as for the community.

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    • Omelas

      Whether you agree with Ms. Henderson or not, since when is peaceable assembly for protest “setting a poor example for children as well as for the community”?

      Even if you do not like what this group has to say, it is important that we defend the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. If anything, this sets the CORRECT example for children…how to exercise your rights to address grievances with your government. There is a great Social Studies lesson in this.

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  • Justmyopinion

    The city council should be mad at “one of their own”. She could have gone about this in a systematic manner but chose a public display NOT to put the issue in the limelight but her own selfish agenda!

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  • WDM

    Why does a lawsuit need to be put in the limelight?

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  • Observer

    Since when does anyone need a permit for a peaceful demonstration? A parade permit is required for a parade because parades use the streets and require traffic to be detoured. A peaceful demonstration consisting of pickets with placards on the side walk (or any part of the public right-of-way) is a right beyond the control of the police power of the city (or even the state – remember the Selma-Montgomery march).

    If the marches(s) interfere with traffic or threaten pedestrians – deal with those issues as they arise. But, whether they are protesting classroom assignments, board policies, a 58-percent graduation rate or the continuing loss of enrollment – the right to protest (or even demonstrate in support) is crucial to a democratic republic.

    Those who express surprise at Dejerilyn Henderson’s activities should recall the fable of the lady and the snake – they knew what she was when they put her in.

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    • WYSIWYG

      I agree with you Observer but….I truly believe this is what is being brewed here, Under Alabama Code 13-11-4,”(a) A person commits the crime of inciting to riot if he commands, solicits, incites or urges another person to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to cause or create a grave risk of public terror or alarm.

      Would it not create a “public alarm” when the ones who are seeing this are K-6 grades and have no idea what is going on? Would it not create alarm for their parents who cannot leave them at school wondering what could come of this? This could be a 10 person protest or, this could be what I said above, something to cause alarm, that is all that is needed to break the Alabama Law 13A-11-4. Considering the location, could this not become a bad situation quick? Yes it could, so permit or not, what are the intentions of this person? The ones eventually responsible for the outcome will be the city.

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      • Observer

        Commanding, soliciting, inciting or urging others to participate in a peaceful demonstation is a far, far cry from inciting to riot. Cheerleaders at a high school pep rally would come closer to inciting to riot since their activities and purpose is to arouse emotions in the spectators and focus hostility toward another school.

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        • WYSIWYG

          Awe…you do not like us cheerleaders, come on where is your spirit.

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  • Howie_Doohan

    Maybe the councilwoman could have an absentee protest. Then she could submit a list of all the people that showed up in support.

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  • blue oyster club

    Here is a good point. Why don’t you go to your district and help the ones in need. Like crime, slum housing. These are items you need to be doing instead of protesting first graders. How do idiots like this get elected!

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    • Howie_Doohan

      refer to previous comment for election antics. If you need more information on absentee ballots and/or idiots being elected I would refer you to the 2008 & 2012 presidential elections.

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  • WYSIWYG

    I support the Mayor and the Chief of Police. This is a disgrace and from an elected official who should be trying to do good things, but yet, seems to want to be another fluke civil rights activist when there is no reason for this. There comes a time when equal rights does not equal MORE rights, and to the people who elected this person, I hope you knew what outgoing ballot was sent in as an absentee from your mailbox because this is a disgrace to our town. I do not always agree with that the city does, but in this case, the Mayor is right, the Chief is right, and I do not think it is fair to do this because the kids are the ones who will see this and not understand. It is not the kids fault, you cannot tell me that kids this age know what is going on and it is not fair to subject them to this kinda of racism nonsense. I hope the TPD finds out who owns the land across from the school, obtains consent to arrest trespassers and puts this FOOL in jail and all of her supporters. I have two kids at TES, be careful there woman, you subject mine to acts of nonsense, they mention your protest which has no merit, you will need to get many many lawyers to represent you and the city! You forget, you represent this city, the city you wanted to make better, they will be held responsible for your actions, so lets just hope you do not corrupt my kids.

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    • Observer

      The property between the pavement and the school fence on the East side and the apartment parking on the West side are the right-of-way owned by the City of Troy, property upon which trespass does not apply since it is a public right-of-way. To prevent their use for a demonstration requires that the demonstrators offend some other law – such as disorderly conduct. The students who use the right-of-way going to and from school are more disorderly than the pickets likely would be. Demonstrators have exactly the same right to be upon the right-of-way as the children walking to school and need no permission or permit to be there with signs.

      The City of Troy is not liable for the actions of its employees or elected officials when not engaged in activities not part of their employment or elected duty.

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    • Omelas

      WYSIWYG: Whatever happened to “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it (attrib. to Voltaire)?

      And, why would you lead your children to (falsely) believe that there are no disagreements in life, or problems to work through? When they do realize that you have misled them about some things, it will call into doubt everything you have taught them.

      But, I guess that is the Troy way–If you are not blowing smoke up…well, you know…then you are a terrible person for pointing out that there are things that are not as they should be. Just remember, you put whipped cream and sprinkles on a cow patty, but deep down it is still just a cow patty with sprinkles on it.

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      • Curly

        Voltaire never said that, it was Evelyn Beatrice Hall. Considering what your comment pertains to, I find it ironic you attributed the quote to the wrong person.

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  • WYSIWYG

    My kids will not be attending school Monday, this is in protest of YOU! If they are unexcused or miss something, this is going to fall on you and the City of Troy, I will not subject them to this kinda or nonsense, so I hope you are ready to take responsibility for this, or the City. The fool you are…..elected, now you represent the city, now they are responsible for your actions…

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    • Omelas

      Yours is a typical Troy response. Stick your head (and those of your children) in the sand. Continue to pretend that all is well here in paradise–while the serpent slithers between your feet.

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  • WYSIWYG

    I petition the parents, do not subject your kids to this nonsense, do not make them come home and ask questions about this. Keep them out, as Chief Ennis said it is not a safe situation, no matter what time it is, keep them out, due to this and if they are given an unexcused absence or a fail, this falls on this city, we cannot have our kids subjected to an agenda with no merit and nothing but pure racism, keep them out, and if anything is said, since she is acting as a city official, they will be responsible!

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    • Omelas

      So, you are now engaging in criminal solicitation (encouraging truancy) as an act of civil disobedience in protest of someone else’s right to protest?

      Spin around that circle a couple of times and you’ll need an airsickness bag.

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      • WYSIWYG

        Obviously you did not read the part about there being safety concerns. It would be my responsibility to make sure my kids were not in the same place that there was a safety concern. If you call that truancy then I am sure since it is quoted here that there would be safety concerns then immunity would take over so I can make sure my children are safe.

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        • Omelas

          It appears the only “safety concern” is that parents dropping their children off for school will see placards that are critical of TCS. Heaven knows, we can’t allow anyone to criticize TCS.

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      • Local Citizen

        Sounds like a previous middle school administration comment. Pretty BOLD statements if you know what I mean!!!! ;)

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      • Local Citizen

        I support the Mayor, Chief of Police, & School Administration. I believe that the 1st Amendment rights are important as well. If children are scared to go to school because of a group of protesters holding signs and shouting, since they are young and impressionable, that could pose other issues for parents. People are addressing the WRONG issues. Real Issues are budgets, common core & reinventing the wheel, free hand outs, and transient drop outs. Accountability is what we want, not publicity. Look at the real problems, Housing, crimes, criminal statistics and how they relate to one another???? We have a city council member more concerned about a former administrator’s policy than what happens in her district.

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  • WYSIWYG

    Maybe you should be focusing on why this town cannot keep policemen/women. Seems there is a problem there, you should work on fixing that first. The governing body you work with is not all that either, why don’t you go after them and leave the kids alone? Picking on kids means your weak and this is not gonna be tolerated, you make it easy….you are a CITY representative, which means they are held responsible for your actions………….

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  • BH1880

    What are you complaining about something like this has gone on in the county for years. Go back and read the few times that politicians made news (other incidence did not get reported) and good(?) politicians said nothing. What was that famous quote, “Diapers and politicians should be changed regular and often for the same reason”.

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  • blue oyster club

    If I was hicks I would sue the city for harassment communications.
    Not one city leader has steped to the plate and address the issue of
    The councilwoman is a lose cannon and the rest of the leadership
    Being silent on this matter. These poor kids will see this nut protesting
    And she represents the council. Sue them hicks. Sue them !!

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    • Omelas

      The charge you are referring to is “Harassing Communications” and it is not a matter for a civil suit: it is a misdemeanor criminal offense under Title 13A of the Alabama Code. Also, Ms. Henderson saying things that someone does not like does not constitute harassing communications. That criminal law, like others, has a very specific set of requirements for it to apply.

      You should look it up. As the saying goes, “It is better to be thought a fool and remain silent, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

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  • Observer

    Does anyone, anywhere know the status of the Troy City Schools and Pike County Schools with respect to the Lee v Macon consent decree? Several years ago the federal court expressed frustration that the court was still having to deal with so many aspects of education in Alabama and encouraged the systems to seek to attain unitary status which would remove them from the onus of the consent decree.

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  • Justmyopinion

    Many of you are not seeing the major issue in my mind and that is that this person is “demonstrating” an issue she has never approached through channels most people in leadership would have taken. She has not approached school level or system level leadership. Nor have we been told that she has addressed this issue with city officials who could easily and rightfully brought this before the TCS Board of Ed. Why is she taking this course? Is it right a wrong or put herself in the limelight?

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    • Omelas

      Are you sure she has not addressed it through the School Board or Superintendent?

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  • WYSIWYG

    These city leaders run every time, because they love their community. Your community is being questioned. Where are you???? The City is different than a private business, it is the city’s job to keep the public informed and no one has stood up and said this is not right? I am getting to think there is an issue. Ms. Henderson sent a letter to the paper and they printed it, where are you all at? No one is willing to stand up for this community and their school system. If that is the case then you all need to resign and put someone in there who will at least say something. That is not leadership folks. Hello….someone rent a crane and go dig the city leaders out of the sand!

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  • wayfaroff

    This seems to be, overall, really stupid. Big deal, someone wants to protest. Let her. It seems like the school would have had the foresight to see this policy could only create trouble of some type. I don’t know if she is right or not, but it doesn’t even matter.
    I am from Troy originally but live in Colorado now. Here, every day, from big to small towns, there is some type of protest regarding most anything you can think of. It can be a slight aggravation and a lot of times you just want to tell people to get over it, but it isn’t harmful and sometimes it does get good things done.

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