Elizabethton PD aware of planned Saturday protests at Covered Bridge, reminds public of safety laws

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Elizabethton Police Department is reminding people of state weapon laws ahead of reports of planned protests in the city on Saturday.

According to a release from EPD, the department has received multiple calls from concerned citizens after groups have posted on social media about plans to protest at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Covered Bridge.

The release reminds the public that the Covered Bridge Park is among the parks that are open for anyone’s use every day from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. unless otherwise reserved through a permit.

EPD says no individual or group has reached out to make such a reservation.

Chief Jason Shaw says in the release that many citizens and business owners are concerned for their own safety and the safety of others in Elizabethton on Saturday.

“It is a fundamental right to assemble and peaceably protest. The officers of the Elizabethton Police Department make daily sacrifices to protect and serve; and take seriously our mission ‘To Serve and Protect with Integrity and Respect,'” Shaw said in the release.

EPD says the department will do its best to protect the freedoms of everyone there while also prioritizing their safety.

“We will do our best to protect the freedoms and insure safety of all in attendance, equally, reasonably, and without bias,” Shaw said.

Chief Shaw also reminded those planning on being downtown on Saturday of Tennessee State Laws regarding weapons.

“First, I want to address weapons laws in the state of Tennessee. The Constitution of the State of Tennessee in Article 1, Section 26 says “That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have the power to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.”Tennessee Code Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307, Unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1308, Defenses to unlawful possession or carrying of a weapon, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1302, Prohibited weapons, and Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351, Handgun carry permits address these issues. In brief summary, in Tennessee, to be compliant with state law, a person must have a handgun permit to carry a loaded handgun openly or concealed in public areas. A handgun permit does not allow for the carrying of a loaded rifle or shotgun in public areas. If one wishes to carry a rifle or shotgun in public the ammunition for the weapon cannot be in the “immediate vicinity of the person or weapon” (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1308)
I respectfully ask all those peaceful law-abiding citizens that plan on coming to Elizabethton tomorrow to refrain from bringing rifles and shotguns. After conference with the District Attorney’s office on these weapons laws and in the interest of public safety, our officers will be watching for persons carrying rifles and shotguns in our public spaces and have the duty to stop and inspect such rifle and or shotgun to insure it is unloaded and check the person for ammunition in the immediate vicinity. Please help us by not coming to town with long arms to display. Lawful permitted carry of handguns is always welcome in Elizabethton, and concealed carry is preferred.”

Chief Jason Shaw, Elizabethton Police Dept.

Currently, EPD says the only roadways that will be closed will be those designated for the Carter County Car Club’s show. The car show is given three blocks of East Elk Avenue.

As of Friday, the car club still intends to have the show on Saturday from 5-9 p.m.

Chief Shaw also reminded the public of other weapons laws and charges that would keep officers from keeping the peace.

Disorderly Conduct- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-305
Obstructing a Highway or other passageway- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-307
Assault- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-101
Aggravated Assault- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102
Reckless Endangerment- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-103
Definition of Riot- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-301
Riot- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-302
Aggravated Riot- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-303
Inciting to riot- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-304
Harassment- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-308
Civil rights intimidation- Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-309

To read the full release, click here.

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