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WASHINGTON -- Subscribers to an Atlanta Tea Party email list received an alert Monday morning urging them to take a stand against SB 469, a controversial Georgia bill that would criminalize certain forms of mass picketing.
The email, which went out to 50,000 people, puts the Atlanta Tea Party with some unusual company: organized labor, environmentalists and the Occupy movement. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Don Balfour (R), a Waffle House executive and Georgia Chamber of Commerce board member, would impose $1,000 fines on people who picketed outside the homes of corporate executives or outside some businesses, a tactic commonly used by Occupy groups, environmental protestors and unions in the midst of labor disputes.
Julianne Thompson, Georgia state director for Tea Party Patriots, told The Huffington Post that she and her fellow organizers don't see SB 469 as a political issue so much as a free-speech issue. Thompson spoke out against the bill at the state capitol Monday.
"When we're talking about the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, we're not talking about political right-versus-left. We're talking about right versus wrong," Thompson said. "If it's a violation of free speech we're going to be on the side of the Constitution. I'm happy that we've reached across party lines with regard to this issue."
Although the bill's supporters have said the legislation would pertain only to labor unions, Thompson pointed out that it could be read more broadly, to include a "person" or "organization" whose picketing interferes with a resident's "right to quiet enjoyment."