Letter: Double standard for public access to state capitol is crazy

Published 6:16 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

From Jim Porter, Danville —

On Feb. 10, State Senator Rick Girdler and State Representative Daniel Elliot held a “town hall” meeting with residents of Boyle County. They are to be commended for doing so because many politicians have stopped holding public forums with their constituents because there may be questions asked or facts presented that they don’t want to hear. 

One of those difficult exchanges came when citizen Julie Pease asked Sen. Girdler if he was as afraid of the men dressed in camouflage clothing and carrying AR-15’s, AK-47’s and Glocks marching through the capitol last week as he professed to be of the teachers a year ago when they were demonstrating in the capitol rotunda? Mr. Girdler seemed not to remember much about that exchange, which was held on Jan. 16, 2019.  

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Well I remember it very, very well. Girdler indicated that the sight of all those teachers “scared him” and he was “afraid that he might not make it home to his grandchildren.” Just to double-check my memory I went back to last year’s Advocate-Messenger and found this article — amnews.com/2019/01/16/boyle-legislators-hear-from-public-at-danville-meeting — which quoted Sen. Girdler: Girdler said during last year’s teachers’ demonstrations against the government’s handling of the pension issue, he was fearful of some people in the crowds. “It upped my level of fear.” 

When pressed about this year’s guns rights demonstrations, Girdler responded that he “didn’t see anybody like that” and that he felt no fear. Well if he didn’t see them, he wasn’t looking. For his edification, here is an article from Rolling Stone Magazine:.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/fully-armed-rally-goers-enter-kentuckys-capitol-building-with-zero-resistance-946606.

My point is this: Kentucky teachers were forbidden from entering the Capitol Annex without passing through the metal detectors. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, visitors to the capitol building are banned from entering with umbrellas or sticks that are used for protest signs because they can be “used as weapons,” but guns and rifles are permitted. Joe Gerth of the Courier-Journal tweeted a video showing security officers instructing armed rally-goers to go around the metal detectors while entering the capitol building. 

So we were treated to the spectacle of heavily armed men, many with ski masks, parading around the capitol with assault weapons, pistols, and knives. Yet teachers or folks in the Poor People’s campaign had to go through metal detectors and leave their umbrellas at home. I think that the inmates have taken over the asylum.