Safety, Freedom of Speech: Rally Priorities

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Safety, Freedom of Speech: Rally Priorities

Posted: 08/23/2017

The Knoxville Police Department is taking steps to ensure the safety of both participants and the public during a planned demonstration scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, in Fort Sanders, Mayor Madeline Rogero said today.

Seventeenth Street will be closed to vehicle traffic beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday from Cumberland Avenue to Highland Avenue, and side streets connecting in that stretch of 17th will also be blocked. These closures will provide room for designated demonstration areas for those planning to come to the rally. That section of 17th Street has narrow sidewalks.

One local group has posted online plans for a rally on Saturday afternoon at the Confederate memorial on 17th Street, and other groups have promised to show up in counterprotests. Mayor Rogero asked that all participants on any side respect each other’s rights, and that they respect the role of law enforcement in maintaining peace and discouraging aggressive behavior.

“Our officers will be there to maintain order and ensure that everybody is free to speak their piece,” Mayor Rogero said. “These are volatile times, and I strongly urge everyone to refrain from antagonism. We can have these discussions as a community without resorting to angry rhetoric or violence.”

As a security precaution, guns, other weapons and masks will not be allowed for people entering the designated demonstration areas near the Confederate soldier memorial. In compliance with state law, the areas will be subject to wanded security checks. In addition, temporary no-parking zones will be posted along adjoining streets and enforced by towing ahead of the demonstrations.

“I regret the inconvenience these temporary restrictions will create for the residents and businesses of Fort Sanders, which is one of Knoxville’s great historic neighborhoods,” KPD Chief David Rausch said. “I ask for their patience during Saturday’s events.”

KPD worked with local, state and federal law-enforcement partners and the City’s Fire and Public Service departments in planning for Saturday’s events.

Here are the details of those plans:

• Beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, no vehicles will be allowed to park on the street in a six-block area, bounded by Highland Avenue to the north, White Avenue to the south, 16th Street to the east and 18th Street to the west. Vehicles left parked in this area will be towed.

• Those planning to enter the established demonstration zones will be scanned with a metal detector.

• No masks or shields of any type or coverings of the face will be allowed in the demonstration zones.

• No weapons of any type, including knives and handguns, will be allowed in the demonstration zones.

• No poles or sticks or any other objects that can be used as a weapon will be allowed into the demonstration zones. Signs or flags or any other material will not be allowed into the designated demonstration areas if they are attached to a pole or stick or any other object that could be utilized as a weapon.

• No water bottles, drink containers, coolers, liquid beverages or food items will be allowed in the demonstration zones. Water will be provided to participants on site. Only required medical items will be allowed into the demonstration zones.

Road closures on Saturday, Aug. 26, include:

• 17th Street, from Cumberland Avenue to Highland Avenue; and

• White Avenue, Clinch Avenue, Laurel Avenue and Highland Avenue will be closed between 16th Street and 18th Street.

Residents affected by the street closures will be permitted to leave their homes and apartments as needed.

Meanwhile, a collection of unwanted medicines at a Fountain City grocery store that had been planned for Saturday has been canceled due to Knoxville police officers being reassigned to new duties associated with Saturday’s Fort Sanders demonstration. Knox County residents can bring old or unused medicines at any time to the Knoxville Police Department Safety Building at 800 Howard Baker Jr. Ave. The Safety Building is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.