Protesters outside of Holston Valley Medical Center cited by City of Kingsport for violating new ordinance

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Day 226 of a protest outside Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport started Friday with the City of Kingsport issuing citations to four protesters for violating a new city ordinance.

Those citations were issued around 9 a.m. by police officers at the protesters’ tent structure on West Ravine Road.

On Tuesday afternoon, the individuals were given notice that their structure was not in compliance with city code, the City of Kingsport said in a statement.

On Wednesday afternoon, the structure was officially posted as being out of compliance.

The statement also said, “Per City Ordinance, the offending parties had 24-hours to come into voluntary compliance.”

The City adds, “These individuals still have the option of coming into voluntary compliance until that date.”

You can read the full statement below:

On Tuesday afternoon (12/10/2019), the individuals on West Ravine Road were given written notice that their structure was not in compliance with City code.  The following afternoon (Wednesday, 12/11/2019) the structure was officially posted as being out of compliance.  Per City ordinance, the offending parties had 24-hours to come into voluntary compliance.  When they failed to do so, the City of Kingsport Code Enforcement Division had no choice but to move forward with the next phase of the enforcement process.  On Friday morning (12/13/2019), all four individuals who were present at the structure were issued a citation into City court to answer to the violation.  Their court appearance date has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 4:00 PM.  These individuals still have the option of coming into voluntary compliance until that date.

Statement from the City of Kingsport to News Channel 11.

Here is a look at two of the citations:

“Shame on the City of Kingsport and it’s business leaders and community leaders who are hiding behind email threads and statements while they try to undermine the Constitution and the rights of the people that they are supposed to help and represent,” said protester Dani Cook, who was one of the four people issued a citation.

In November, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a change to city code prohibiting non-permitted structures on public right-of-ways.

The protests began in May about Ballad Health’s decision to consolidate trauma and NICU services.

Thursday, News Channel 11 obtained emails from city leaders that suggest the idea came from leaders at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

Protester Dani Cook said that Kingsport Police told her they were originally planning on serving the citation on Thursday, but because of the large amount of people at the tent structure, they decided to wait until Friday

“I think that should have done it yesterday within the 24 hours, just because there were a lot of people here,” said protester Elminia Dougherty, who also was issued a citation.

The protesters have a court date scheduled for January 8th at 4 p.m.

“Had the city not issued this ordinance and cited us, our plan was to wind things down by Christmas and go home,” said Cook. “Now that the city is trying to infringe upon our first amendment rights, they can get used to seeing us here for a while.”

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