Shortly after invoicing the city of Richmond, VA for $8500, the amount the city charged the Richmond Tea Party for permits for their Tax Day rallies over the past three years, the Richmond Tea Party received an audit notice from the city’s Dept. of Finance. The city claims the audit has nothing to do with the Tea Party’s recent criticism of the mayor. I doubt that, and so does Occupy Richmond according to a recent press release:
Occupy Richmond believes in absolute free speech, including the right to criticize the government without fear of retribution. Given the duplicitous and violent manner in which the city government chose to raid our peaceful occupation, it would not surprise us if the recently announced city audit of the Richmond Tea Party were retaliation for their criticism of the Mayor. We recognize that bureaucratic harassment like audits are one weapon oppressive regimes use to silence dissent. Not only do we call on the city to drop the audit, but we also demand the immediate refund of any money paid speci?cally to secure the Tea Party’s free speech and assembly privileges. Those rights are not the city’s to sell.
The Tea Party and Occupy movements disagree on many, many issues. This should not stop all Americans from proudly standing together against government abuses, nor should we allow the corporate media to manufacture shallow disputes for their own ends. We welcome a dialogue with individuals in the Richmond Tea Party. Despite our differences, we af?rm what we believe is our mutual commitment to principled political discourse as a precondition to addressing this nation’s problems.
I’d take it a step further, and argue the Richmond Tea Party and Occupy Richmond see eye-to-eye on almost few issues, if any. It’s rare for the beneficiaries of an obvious double-standard to even acknowledge the difference in treatment, and condemning it is typically out of the question.