In a singular defining act of strange bedfellows, Atlanta Tea Party Patriots has joined with labor groups and civil rights activists to protest legislation put forth by state Sen. Don Balfour that restricts civil disobedience and picketing.
The legislation, SB 469, prevents “unlawful mass picketing” in some instances near private residences. The bill would define such action “criminal trespass,” with jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. Crowds gathered to protest at the Georgia state Capitol Saturday, CBS Atlanta reported.
Unions see the bill as threatening their right to picket, and tea party activists see the bill as trampling First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. In an email to supporters, the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots feared criminal action against “those protesting outside abortion clinics or other scenarios,” according to a report on the The Raw Story website. Companies could seek an injunction from a judge to halt protests near their locations if the protests threatened to interfere with business entrances or some public areas.
Balfour, whose bio on the National Conference of State Legislatures says he is an "executive with the Waffle House, Inc.," could stand to benefit from the legislation. The bill has passed a Senate vote and heads to a vote in the House of Representatives.
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