CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Feb. 23, 2022 — People in office do not care about your rights. The citizenry has become timid, fearful, mortgaged and oppressed.
So it appears after 4 years of my transportation administrative notice project. It has yet to be grabbed and swung batlike by the people of SE Tennessee to resist oppression and bring change to the system bottom up.
The system to which I refer is the traffic enforcement part of the police-industrial complex in Tennessee.
3rd of 3 parts
In February 2020, I put the city council of Chattanooga on administrative notice regarding the distinction in Tennessee law between transportation and travel. One activity is taxable; the other is not. The notice says that policing against people who are traveling privately on the public right of way must stop. If a cop stops a citizen on the road, it must be under a warrant, the officer’s witnessing a crime or an act that clearly evokes the common law power to arrest a public danger or harm.
Traffic stops are under the commercial statute that regulates carriers. What’s that? You say. There are two kinds of carriers in Tennessee, common and private. If you are required to have a license in Tennessee, that is because you are either one or the other.
And yet all branches of government agree in a fraud against the people. State elected officials and state and municipal employees agree that if you are on the road, you must have a valid driver’s license. They hold that, in fact and in law, all movement is commercial, and all movement on the people’s roadways is subject to state enforcement of for-hire common or private carriers.
The great harm this does to people is countable on many fronts. One of them is that Jim Crow, the post-war reconstructionist era of black oppression and harassment, operates in 2022 through the police power upon travel.
Jim Crow is traffic stops for blacks and other people of color, and poor people. Traffic stops are a form of social engineering and social management of lesser type people, and also businessmen who are perhaps violating some rule or regulation or law emanating from the federal war on drugs or other federal wars among the people of America.
Pols, protest leaders give remedy pass
My administrative notice project is intended to be a bottom-up reform in which the people insist on their rights, using my public notice as a pivot to fight back against criminal charges under the traffic statute and also to go to sue for damages after a false arrest under the abused law.
Officials don’t care about ending this oppression as it lives through traffic stops because it’s too much trouble. The power of inertia — called customs and usages in law — is profound. Even a possible remedy to a problem considered by a politician must be weighed against claims and interests that might more easily gain traction, gain consensus, win political points, be easily explainable and generate broad interest.
Why look to the actual law controlling an issue — and see if it is being abused — when we might deal with the “problem” by political means (meetings, rallies, bills, committee formation, campaign planks). To look at how the law is being abused is a legal issue — that takes the initiative away from the city council member or county commissioner.
That means “lawmakers” don’t resort to actual law to fix oppressive acts by police.
On Chattanooga city council I have had interviews about administrative notice with Anthony Byrd, Dr. Carol Berz, Darrin Ledford and Chip Henderson. I made the case for reform to then-city attorney Phil Noblett. I put Sheriff Jim Hammond on notice March 1, 2018, with two of his deputies present. On county commission Dr. Warren Mackey heard me out. I have briefed David Sharpe, commissioner, by phone. I’ve made oral presentations to each body under the 3-minute rule about the laws’s limits on police and deputies.
The mood seems to be that there is nothing to be done about my reporting unless there is consensus. I won’t go out on a limb with your analysis unless I can get other people to hear of your claim and go along, these elected officials say. We’ll have to first check with county attorney Rheubin Taylor, these people say.
I have talked in detail about using my administrative notice with William “C-Grimey” Williams, one of the two leaders of the George Floyd protests in Chattanooga. With Marie Mott, another protest leader, I have also pushed for use by African-Americans to take advantage of the notice and stop Jim Crow commercial government by police and sheriff’s officers. Dr. David Banks gave me 45 minutes to discuss the project as a means of halting abuses such as the Fredrico Wolfe beating by cop Ben Piazza.
I described the notice to Rev. Ternae Jordan after he spoke at a press conference to present Mayor Tim Kelly’s pick for police chief, Celeste Murphy. The Rev. Jordan said essentially that people have too much on their plates to deal with a novel solution that has legal complexities within the simple concept of obeying the law as written, and not going beyond it.
I reach many black people via radio. But I have no report that any of these listeners use my notice at police encounters, or have used it in court as a defense of their having a revoked or suspended license, or no insurance. There is one exception — Keelah Jackson in 2019. She was oppressed by denial of a driver license because of unpaid fines, according to several stories about her plight.
Attorneys such as Robin Flores, known for suing cops, have no use for my notice and care not to hear about it. Administrative notice did not originate from one of their guild members. Attorney Micah Guster, defending the “baptising” deputy Daniel Wilkey, refused my correspondence and phone calls proposing use of the notice, which would have tended to exonerate his client.
I have publicized this public notice a great deal in Tulis Report on NoogaRadio, and given it extensive coverage on the website. But attorneys are unwilling to take advantage of admin notice on behalf of their clients, not willing to unsettle a system in which continuing injustice is their bread.
It’s up to us
Delay in the use of the notice in no way invalidates it. Transportation administrative notice stands unchallenged by any of the government bodies who received it, whether Chattanooga, East Ridge, Red Bank, Dayton or Hamilton County. I also put the department of safety and homeland security under the notice, and it waits to be used by someone in a court case. All have yielded to it as a matter of law, as acquiescence in law is acceptance.
The notice awaits your use in your traffic case. You have to think of your case as worth fighting. The fees are low enough not to generate resistance in the population, to win ready payments by accused parties who waive their rights or who plea bargain. But principles of liberty matter; I intend my notice to be useable in criminal defense and by plaintiffs in civil cases seeking damages or reform.
If I am arrested and charged with a traffic “crime,” I will use administrative notice to defeat the criminal case, and sue the officer personally and his employer for damages. Acting outside of the law and after proper legal notice is a bad idea for municipal governments and individual officers. Bad faith and malice add to the awards a plaintiff can demand and a jury might be willing to award.
David Tulis runs NoogaRadio 96.9 FM and is editor of TNtrafficticket.us, covering local economy in Chattanooga and beyond. He is not an attorney and does not give legal advice; for that, consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state or on another planet, where the law may indeed matter. He hosts a marketplace show two hours weekdays 2 p.m. live at NoogaRadio.com and also live on Facebook at NoogaRadio. He is married and the father of four homeschooled children.