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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Tea Party activists say Occupation was unfair, Gingrich to appear

Camie Young

Camie Young

Two Gwinnett women are taking Atlanta to task, saying the Occupy Atlanta protests were given unfair treatment compared to Tea Party planned events.

Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley, coordinators for the Tea Party Patriots, said they sought city venues for rallies in the past, but the high fees and strict rules sent them to the State Capitol instead of a park.

But the Occupy Atlanta protesters set up in Woodruff Park for weeks without paying permit fees -- that is, before they were ousted by Mayor Kasim Reed late Tuesday.

Thompson and Dooley also said they were told not to have signs on poles or sticks or even pass out small flags to wave at their events, but the Occupy crowd had no such restriction.

"We complied, as we have always followed the letter of the law and conducted ourselves with honor of our city, state and country," the women said in a press release.

They chastised Mayor Kasim Reed for the allowing the rules to be bent by one political group but not another, and said they surely would have been arrested from the beginning if their protests had been conducted like the Occupy ones.

"The mayor has chosen to grant special rights and privileges regarding free speech based on which group is in line with his own political ideology," they said in the release. "This action by Mayor Reed has set a precedent that has a profound and chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of not only conservative activists, but of all citizens."

With plans for a rally in the spring, the women said their group should be given the same treatment as the Occupy crowd, threatening to file a discrimination law suit against the city if they are forced to pay fees or go through an extensive permit process.

Gingrich to appear at forum

A local GOP group will begin a series of presidential forums next week, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appearing in public in Gwinnett.

Gingrich is scheduled to speak at the Gwinnett Place Marriott at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.

"We are preparing for the most important election of our lifetime. America is at a crossroads. We must decide whether we remain a free, capitalist nation or embark on the disastrous journey that is being offered by the left," 7th District GOP Chairman Jason Thompson said in a press release. "We have an important decision to make and we wanted to provide a format that would give the voters in Georgia an up-close and personal opportunity to meet and hear candidates in person, instead of just on television."

Thompson, husband of the Tea Party Patriots coordinator mentioned earlier in the column, said he expects a number of candidates to take up his invitation to meet in separate town hall sessions, since the 7th district has been a GOP stronghold for decades. He said that it could be even stronger after this year's redrawing of the congressional district lines, which changed the boundaries from five counties to much of Gwinnett (except for southern and eastern areas) and southern Forsyth counties.

Williams announces race

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Glen B. Williams, candidate for GA House District 93.

A Snellville man announced a campaign for a state House seat this week.

Glen Williams, an information technology consultant, said he will seek the newly formed state House District 93, which spans much of southern Gwinnett and part of DeKalb.

"I've been serving that area from a civic, business and school capacity for a decade," Williams said, adding that he became a kind of liaison for the community speaking out on zoning issues.

Williams, a Democrat, is a graduate of the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute and served on last year's Engage Gwinnett committee. The father of two hopes to focus on education and economic development issues at the state Capitol, after next year's election.

After being courted to run for the seat, Williams learned that Dar'Shun Kendrick, who currently represents District 94, lives in the new District 93 boundaries. But he plans to give the incumbent a run for her spot.

With the election a year away, Williams has begun talking to civic organizations about his candidacy. His campaign website will be up later this week, and a fundraiser is planned for next month.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.