On February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified to prevent any level of government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". Several states, not wanting to extend the right to vote to recently freed slaves and newly arrived immigrants, instituted a poll tax designed to serve as a financial roadblock to the right to vote. Finally, on January 23, 1964, the Twenty-fourth Amendment was passed prohibiting using a poll tax as a condition upon voting.
Fast forward less than fifty years and similar tactics are still being used to try to prevent citizens from exercising unwelcome rights.
This past weekend, the Ohio statewide rally for the upcoming Second Amendment March was held at the Ohio Statehouse. As the Ohio coordinator, I applied for an obtained an inexpensive permit to hold the rally on the West Plaza of the Statehouse. Had it just remained at that I would have had no issue with it. However, the permit which had been issued in July was suddenly in jeopardy two weeks prior to the event when I received a call from Statehouse security informing me that guns had been banned on Statehouse grounds, contrary to State law. Attempts were made to obtain an exemption from those rules so that attendees could exercise their Right to Keep and Bear Arms at the same time they exercised their Right to Peaceably Assemble.
The Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board offered to approve an exemption if several conditions were met, including hiring ten security officers at a cost of $2,000 and obtaining a half-million dollar insurance policy reputed to cost $1,200. The offer was made to waive these requirements if we would simply ban guns from the rally, clearly an attempt to deny a right by threatening a financial penalty. Eventually, negotiations lead to the amount out of pocket being reduced to $1,000 for security and nearly that same amount in legal fees to get that agreement. You can read the full story here.
Now, the City of Campbell, Ohio is attempting a similar ploy to stop a planned rally against that City.
Campbell has been under fire for weeks now after passing an ordinance banning the sale of firearms or firearm components within City limits. This ordinance was passed after a resident applied for a rezoning in order to open a small gun repair shop.
Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been working all along to try to get the City to repeal the ordinance, which is in violation of statewide preemption of gun laws, but has had little success. To protest this issue and other alleged shady dealings by City officials, a local tea party planned to hold a rally in Campbell. Campbell issued a free permit to hold the rally, but is allegedly following the Statehouse's lead by demanding that four police officers be hired by the organizers of the rally at an estimated cost of $2,000. The intent seems to be to deny the Right to Peaceably Assemble to the college students behind the rally who are unable to afford such an expense.
While the saying "freedom isn't free" has been in circulation for years it is supposed to refer to the fact that citizens need to participate in government and exercise their rights through civil service and be willing to pledge their fortunes to protect those rights if necessary. It is not supposed to mean that you need to pay the government fees and taxes in order to be allowed to exercise those rights. You should not have to pay to exercise a right.
Last time it took nearly one hundred years and a Constitutional amendment to put an end to such a corrupt practice. What will it take this time?