Councilman proposes ban on hate groups assembling in Portsmouth

Following the Charlottesville tragedy, Portsmouth councilman Mark Whitaker proposed a ban in hopes of preventing anything similar in his city.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Following the Charlottesville tragedy, Portsmouth councilman Mark Whitaker proposed a ban in hopes of preventing anything similar in his city.

In an email sent to other councilmembers this week, Whitaker asked to discuss banning hate groups from protesting in Portsmouth.

Fellow Councilman Bill Moody said he sees where councilman Whitaker is coming from but he doesn't see how it can be done.

"I think it would be in violation to first amendment rights. I think it would open our city up to potential litigation," said Moody.

He thinks all groups, with a legal permit, should be allow to freely gather in Portsmouth and it's the city's job to be prepared.

"What you can do is, if they break the law, you enforce the law and you enforce it quickly, thoroughly, to avoid any violence," he said.

Some community members don't buy it, however.

Community activist, Rocky Hines with the Young Black Council, is standing behind Councilman Whitaker's proposal.

"I hope that Mark Whitaker's plan goes into action sooner than later," said Hines.

He thinks the proposal targets specific hate groups known for spreading hateful messages.

"What needs to happen is there needs to be a definitive law that separates domestic terrorist organizations. How do you put the NAACP and the KKK in the same type of conversation?" he said.

Councilman Moody said restricting speech, from either side, is unlawful.

"We've always got the option of walking out if we don't like what we're hearing or not attending," said Moody.

"These are cities of love. These are not cities of hate and they're not welcome here," said Hines.

Moody said there is a public work session Monday night and this is on the agenda.

We reached out to Councilman Whitaker but didn't hear back.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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