“You are not a slave, you are free” is a bold assertion I have made several times in the past few weeks to African-American men and women in Chattanooga.
I propose they liberate themselves from a holdover claim of slave days, a law so familiar that even the most just and honorable people in our city do not see its quiet hand upon the affairs of the people.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
That holdover rule is the state and local police control of their movements by car. It is imposed upon these black people even though they are using the car or truck for private purposes, apart from any commercial activity, not within the scope of the commercial regulation of motor vehicles in Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55.
Existing practice by Chattanooga-area police departments and the sheriff’s office of Jim Hammond is to demand a valid driver license of everyone on the road, even though they are noncommercial private users. These accused people are only presumptively in the commercial realm, having opted into it voluntarily by mistake and deceit, cunningly coerced out of their constitutional rights under the bill of rights.
The driver license scheme that oppresses African-Americans and all other peoples in Tennessee constitutes badges and incidents of slavery described by federal court justice Roger Taney in his ruling against the slave Dred Scott before the outbreak of the war to prevent Southern independence to become a slave-based separate economy.
Mr. Taney favors practices “to treat [blacks] as an inferior class, and to subject them to strict police regulations, drawing a broad line of distinction between the citizen and the slave races.” Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 19 How. (1856), 412.
‘Without pass, shall be stopped, seized’
Judge Taney goes on to describe existing laws in Connecticut, which had outlawed slavery and “the first to fix a mark of reprobation upon the African slave trade.” But it kept blacks under licensure and police power, particularly when they move about on its roads.
[T]there is also a provision by which any negro, Indian, or mulatto servant who was found wandering out of the town or place to which he belonged without a written pass such as is therein described was made liable to be seized by anyone, and taken before the next authority to be examined and delivered up to his master — who was required to pay the charge which had accrued thereby. And a subsequent section of the same law provides that if any free negro shall travel without such pass, and shall be stopped, seized, or taken up, he shall pay all charges arising thereby. And this law was in full operation when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, and was not repealed till 1797. So that, up to that time, free negroes and mulattoes were associated with servants and slaves in the police regulations established by the laws of the State. (416)
It is inconceivable to Judge Taney that blacks even in free states such as Connecticut could be truly free. If they were, other states would be compelled to accept these black people as free and equal with whites when they crossed a border as travelers, either on foot, on horse or mule or in wagon.
For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the (417) regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State. [emphasis added]
All rights depend on free movement
Judge Taney rightly understands that the freedom of travel enables and facilitates other rights that are to be denied the slave class.
The liberty of speech.
The holding of public meetings.
The keeping and bearing of arms.
For blacks to be free to move apart from today’s driver license would produce among such people “discontent and insubordination,” and this state would endanger “the peace and safety” of the state.
The enforcement of Title 55 is outside the scope of the statute, and outside the scope of commercial regulatory inception starting at the time of World War I. Since about 1915 the power of the state to regulate the people’s roads has been upon the use of those roads for COMMERCIAL activity, that is to say, the extraordinary and profit-seeking use of the roadways by those who find the highway their principal place of business.