As a new appointee to Trumps “Council of Governors” Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has already sought to make a name for himself at the expense of opinionated protesters. State Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) is among one of many lawmakers and citizens that express the sentiment that the bill goes way too far. According to Akbari, “The bill is ridiculous, unnecessary and very anti-American and goes against the founding principles of the country.” The protests viewed across the nation are beginning to mirror the Civil Rights Movement to a certain extent.
The bill at the center of the controversy is one that Governor Lee signed in to law that indicates citizens will be charged with felonies for voicing their opinions by protesting at the state capital and can potentially lose their voting rights. In turn, this will lead to potential incarceration, become a mark on their record and make it difficult to obtain employment. The party lines are drawn on this issue as supporters like Representative Andrew Farmer (R) of East Tennessee feels the new law makes it safer to protest versus the reduction of freedoms. Activist Hunter Demster of Memphis believes the bill is a violation of the First Amendment that invokes the right to Freedom of Speech. Demster said, “Lawmakers should use their time more productively and fix issues instead of creating new ones.
The ACLU is in the process of investigating this new legislation and there is a possibility the process and the bill could land in court.