KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) An ordinance passed by the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman prohibiting certain temporary structures on public right of ways goes into effect Saturday, Dec. 7.
Demonstrators outside of Holston Valley Medical Center say the ordinance directly targets them and their first amendment rights to peacefully protest.
“Rally for the Valley” has taken a stand against Ballad Health’s consolidation of resources and NICU services for the past 220 days.
Protesters also spoke out against the new ordinance in city meetings.
“When I asked them at that time about enforcement they said it was unclear how they were going to enforce it and they were going to get back with us and they have not done that,” says protest organizer Dani Cook.
They say with the ordinance now in effect, the city has not reached out to them with any concerns, nor do they believe they are breaking any rules.
“The sidewalk is and has always been completely open and available to the public. We are not blocking the public right of way, never have been, so we are not violating that law,” says Cook.
News Channel 11 contacted the City of Kingsport today to ask if any action will be taken against the HVMC protest following the new ordinance and they would not comment. They did say however that the ordinance “will be enforced just as any other city ordinance.”
Cook says as they wait to see how the city chooses to take action the peaceful protest will continue.
“The message that it sends to the city is that the people are serious about not wanting a medical monopoly that doesn’t have transparency and accountability. The people are willing to do what’s necessary to make sure the government does the right thing in accordance to their wishes,” says Cook.
The City of Kingsport declined an invitation for an on camera interview to clarify the enforcement of the new ordinance.