When the Richmond Tea Party (RTP) wanted to hold a daytime rally under the right of peaceable assembly protected by the Virginia and United States Constitutions, the City of Richmond made the RTP spend about $8,500 on a special events permit, liability insurance, police presence, and other costs.
The City of Richmond later allowed Occupy Richmond to hold protests over the course of weeks, but did not require the special events permit and other expenditures like those made by the RTP. Occupy Richmond has cost the city and state police about $31,000, and has resulted in multiple arrests.
There has been nationwide outrage over this blatant disparity in treatment. Americans know that government cannot pick First Amendment winners and losers.
In fact, this is one more example of government lawbreaking. Americans inherently understand the laws of freedom better than government, even with almost no media publicity about the First Amendment law of permits for rallies.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, a recipient of generous corporate contributions over his political career as both mayor and a Democratic delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, met with and coddled Occupy Richmond protesters in his mayoral office.
Mayor Jones is a self-described "'child of civil rights' and protest." However, it seems that he missed some key First Amendment lessons of the whole civil rights era, such as how the First Amendment applies equally to everyone.
Upon learning about the discriminatory treatment of its assembly protected by the First Amendment, the RTP sent the City of Richmond a demand for a refund of their $8,500.
Instead of a refund, the City of Richmond sent the RTP a "comprehensive" tax audit letter.
Mayor Jones' exercise of discretion in allowing Occupy Richmond to engage in its activities at taxpayer expense while requiring permits and payments from the RTP tramples United States Supreme Court decisions dating back many decades to earlier American labor union and civil rights movements.
Cities may impose certain reasonable conditions on rallies so that citizens are not harmed and don't bear the extra costs of others' engaging in their rights.