Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"Let us work ! Let us work"!

Councilman Steve Glover addresses the crowd
by Rod Williams, 8/3/2020 - "Let us work! Let us Work!" was the chant from the crowd outside the mayors office this afternoon at a "We Want to Work!" rally. The event drew a crowd estimated at about 400 and took place at noon at Courthouse Square Park.  The protesters could not get closer than the first set of courthouse steps, as the Courthouse is still surrounded by fencing and many of the windows of the Courthouse are still boarded up from the May 30th riot when police passively stood by and watched rioters set fire to the courthouse.  Still, it is almost certain that if the mayor was in his office he heard the chant. Shortly after the event started, someone in the mayor's office closed the office blinds.

Councilman Steve Glover addressed the crowd condemning the mayor's policy of keeping the city on lock down and pledged his support for the cause of the protesters urging them to keep up the pressure on the city.

Most of those in attendance were bar owners, bar keepers, waitresses, and entertainers who work on lower Broadway.  From the interaction of the crowd it seemed many of those in attendance knew each other. I think those who work on lower Broad are a close knit community.  

Several spoke, telling how they were struggling to pay their bills while the shut down was in place.  One man said he was a non-custodial parent with a daughter in Canada and he saved every spare bit of money he could so he could go visit his daughter on a regular basis but had not had the money to go see her since the shutdown of Broadway occurred.

Speakers complained about the injustice of selective enforcement and the unfairness of the city picking winners and loosers.  Speakers complained about the injustice of allowing masses of people to shop at Opryland Mall, yet Lower Broadway was being kept closed. Others mentioned strip clubs which are still allowed to operate and can stay open till 3 A.M., yet music venues are not allowed to be open. Others spoke about how abused and unappreciated they felt. They argued the it is music that made Nashville prosper but yet the city does not take into account the needs of those who work in the music oriented hospitality industry. They are treated as second class citizens.

One person gave an update on what had happened to some of the regular Broadway performers, calling them by name. One had moved to Missouri where he was playing in a bar for tips. Another, had moved back home and went to work in his fathers construction business. Many have left the city and no one knows where they went. The speaker told of how many had had to give up their dream of making a living as a performer and pursuing stardom, due to the city closing the bars where they worked. 

One speaker made the point, that people should have the choice of attending a music venue if they wanted to, that no one who didn't want to would be forced to do so.

I support the protesters and believe Lower Broadway should be allowed to reopen. There are many young people for whom being exposed to the virus or even getting the virus is low-risk and there are those like me who have already had it and are now immune. I would be at Roberts or AJ's if they were open. Going to Lower Broadway is one of the favorite things I like about living in Nashville. My fear is that the venues may close and not reopen if the lock down continues for too long. I also fear that across the board, jobs may not return if the shutdown last too long. The economy is not like a light switch you can just switch off and on. Certainly there is a health risk to allowing people to mingle but there is a health risk to an economic collapse as well.

It is time to reopen Lower Broadway, sent kids to school, and reopen America.

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