[OutVoice] [Fwd: Press Release: GA Women's Festival Shut Down-Incident Report]

Sue Jeffers sue at fbirecords.com
Wed Oct 7 16:55:17 EDT 2009



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Press Release: GA Women's Festival Shut Down-Incident Report
Date: 	Wed, 7 Oct 2009 14:59:56 +0000 (GMT)
From: 	Vicki Blankenship <spottedkivaproductions at yahoo.com>
To: 	Sue Jeffers <sue at fbirecords.com>



Official Indiegrrl Women in the Arts Press Release:

 

Georgia Women’s Festival Shut Down – Incident Report

 

My name is Vicki Blankenship and I am the volunteer president of 
Indiegrrl Women in the Arts, Inc a non profit that works to create 
networking, educational, and showcasing opportunities for women in the 
arts.  Indiegrrl does not discriminate against religion, race, 
sexuality, age, political views or anything else and accepts all women 
involved in the arts to participate in our programs and events.  We work 
to build community type events to bring awareness to women in the arts 
and to raise monies for various charities and are presently working to 
raise funds to build a facility that will hold children’s music and art 
camps and songwriting/music retreats and workshops for adults.  The 
prospective location for this facility is Mineral Bluff, GA which 
borders NC and is very close to TN.

 

Indiegrrl has produced many festivals in the southeast that were 
community events as well as showcases in venues all around the United 
States showcasing various female music acts, comedians, spoken word 
artists, and local artisans selling their arts and crafts.  We have also 
produced 2 national music conferences, one in Spencer, VA in August 2008 
and one in Nashville, TN in August 2009.  We have future goals to 
produce many more events.  All of these events have been welcomed with 
open arms in the communities in which they were held, accept for the 
very last event we produced this month on October 2, 3, 4 in Tattnall 
County, GA.  This event was the first festival event that we produced as 
a weekend event for women only ages 18 and up and was called the Georgia 
Women’s Festival.  This event had the soul purpose to create a safe 
environment for a weekend of celebration in sisterhood through music and 
art, no matter what your religion, political view, ethnic race, or 
sexual views were.  It was also a fund raiser to help bring in funds to 
go toward the construction of bunk houses for the facility we plan to 
build in Mineral Bluff, GA.  Roy’s Hideaway Campground located in 
Tattnall County Georgia between Reidsville and Collins Georgia was the 
hosting site for this festival and is a gay and lesbian 21 year old and 
up membership campground.

 

On two occasions prior to the festival taking place on October 2 to 4, 
campground owner Roy McLeroy tried going through the proper channels on 
finding out if we needed an event permit and if so to obtain the permit 
for the event to take place on his campground.  He was told by the on 
duty deputies of Tattnall County Sheriff’s department that he did not 
need to obtain a permit since it was private property and also a 
membership campground and that Indiegrrl the producer of the event was a 
non profit organization.  The second time he tried to obtain the permit 
was Thursday morning October 1, 2009 and he was told the exact same thing.

 

The GA Women’s Festival music was scheduled to begin on October 2 at 
2:00pm and was advertised on both the campground website as well as the 
Indiegrrl website and event flyers.  Our first two Friday music acts 
canceled the day before the event due to illness so the music was 
rescheduled to start at 4:00pm but we did not change the schedules on 
our websites.  At 3:00pm two local deputies arrived on site telling 
owner Roy McLeroy and our event sound engineer Steve Wolfe that 
neighbors of the campground had phoned in a complaint that the music was 
too loud and we would have to turn it down.  Roy and Steve informed the 
deputies that the music had not even started and was not starting until 
4:00pm.  The deputies verified that no music was being played on the 
stage and that the stage was not even fully set up yet and the deputies 
left the premises.  At 10:30pm that same night four cars full of 
deputies returned to the campground and told us we would have to stop 
the music.  We were told in front of many witnesses whose names and 
contact info we have, that we could go get a permit at 10:00am, Saturday 
morning, at the Tattnall Sheriff Department from Captain Bradley and we 
could resume our event on Saturday after getting the permit.  With the 
permit we would be allowed to play music until midnight.  The deputies 
stated they had lots of complaints about the noise and a permit would 
allow us to over ride the complaints.  After the deputies left the 
premises, people lined up outside the fenced perimeter of the campground 
and began yelling obscenities at the festival attendees and chanted 
“F___ing Queers go home”.  One neighboring piece of property had cars 
line up in a field that separated the properties between them and the 
campground and shined their car headlights down into the campground, 
blared loud music from their car speakers, and proceeded to fire guns 
down into the pond areas in the campground.  911 calls were made to the 
Tattnall County Sheriff Department to come put a stop to this but 
nothing got stopped.  I personally never saw a police vehicle respond to 
the area with the cars shining their headlights down on us and my cabin 
was 30 feet from the pond they were shooting into.  This went on until 
4:00am when they finally stopped.

 

On Saturday morning campground owner Roy McLeroy, his mother Dorothy, 
Steve Wolfe our sound engineer and I went to the Tattnall County Sheriff 
Department and asked for Captain Bradley to obtain our permit.  We were 
told it was his day off so we asked if they would phone him to come in 
and explained out situation.  When Captain Bradley arrived he walked 
past us and sat behind the window opening at the entrance.  I extended 
my hand for him to shake as I introduced myself and he refused to shake 
my hand all the while as he kept his arms crossed and seemed to be very 
irritated.  I gave him our non profit brochure and our non profit 
federal number and asked if we could get the permit the deputies the 
night before had told us to get from him so we could resume our event 
today. He pushed the papers aside and told me he told them to shut us 
down and no he would not give us a permit.  I explained that the 
deputies had told me in front of many witnesses that Captain Bradley 
would give us a permit so we could resume our fund raising festival on 
Saturday.  I asked him on what grounds was he refusing us a permit.  He 
said he would not give us a permit and again I questioned him as to why 
not.  He stated “I just am not going to do it.”  I asked to see a 
magistrate judge and Captain Bradley told me there was not one on duty 
and told me “leave the premises right now.”  I then stated that I wanted 
to see a magistrate judge to know my rights on their laws and ordinances 
on event permits, noise restrictions, and event guidelines.  At that 
point Captain Bradley demanded that I leave the premises and advised 
campground owner Roy McLeroy to make me leave the premises.  I then 
stated that I have a right to stand on public property and that I was 
not breaking any laws and that I had the right to see in writing the 
laws and ordinances governing events and noise restrictions in their 
county.  Captain Bradley, who was out of uniform and refused to give me 
his first name when I asked him, walked off again yelling “Roy take her 
out of here before I lock her up.”  I told Captain Bradley he had no 
grounds to lock me up that no laws were being broken and that I would 
leave but I would find the proper authorities to find out the Tattnall 
County ordinances and laws.  I also questioned him why the harassment 
from the people outside the campground toward the festival attendees was 
not stopped during the night along with the gun fire after numerous 911 
calls were made.  He said “We took care of that” and I stated “Well 
obviously not because it went on for 5 hours until 4:00am”.  He again 
yelled “Roy get her out of here”.  I then went to the parking lot and 
began making phone calls along with Steve Wolfe to try to find out the 
county ordinances.  Inside the precinct Captain Bradley told Roy McLeroy 
and Dorothy “Ms Blankenship better watch her back while driving out of 
this county or she might find herself locked up in my jail.”  This was a 
verbal threat on my safety and well being.

 

We returned to the campground and gathered everyone and I made an 
announcement to the festival attendees that we were not granted the 
permit that the officers on Friday night told us we could get and that 
the stage could not resume with music.  We then started phoning various 
county offices including the Sheriff’s department to find out what the 
county noise ordinance was and we were told several different answers 
including 9:00pm, 10:00pm, 2:00pm, and All Day.  30 minutes after 
returning to the campground the magistrate judge drove up.  I then 
questioned him on the ordinances and questioned Captain Bradley’s 
behavior.  His direct comment to me was “Well you know how small towns 
are and Captain Bradley is a good old boy and a pretty good officer.”  I 
then stated “I only know about the small towns that go by their 
ordinances and laws that are on the books and that do not make up laws 
as they go along, and where police officers did not threaten people who 
were just asking to know their rights and to see those laws and 
ordinances in writing.”  The magistrate apologized for Captain Bradley’s 
behavior and stated he did not think we had to have a permit because the 
campground was private property in the county and a membership 
campground.  He then walked away and phoned Sheriff Quinton Rush and 
came back and told me we could not go on with our event and that he 
would not issue us a permit.

 

At 8:00pm that night people once again lined up outside the campground 
fence line and resumed yelling obscenities at us and were chanting the 
same “F___ing Queers go home”.  Once again the loud music, headlights 
from the cars, and the shooting of firearms into the ponds and into the 
air resumed until 5:00am on Sunday morning.  Again 911 phone calls were 
made and nothing got stopped.  The women in the campground were 
literally crying in their tents and cabins afraid for their lives and 
the Tattnall County Sheriff Department did not respond to or stop the 
harassment.

 

Indiegrrl had no prior knowledge that the neighboring community had 
harsh feelings towards Roy’s Hideaway Campground and had acted out 
against them in the past.  We would not have organized an event at this 
facility if prior knowledge had existed.  We in no way would put 
festival attendees in any danger by holding an event in a possible 
hostile environment.   We will not hold any more events at this facility 
in the future nor in the county of Tattnall.  We do want to make the 
public aware of the unjust treatment that existed for this event and the 
harassment that did take place.  Events that we produce bring monies to 
the local area including hotel rentals, restaurant revenues, gas and 
grocery revenues and more.  Our goal at Indiegrrl is to create fun 
community events that benefit the attendees, the community, and the 
artists participating.  Indiegrrl is still exploring our options on 
legal proceedings with this situation.  It is unacceptable for this type 
of blatant harassment and prejudicial treatment to go on and the lives 
of US citizens to be put in jeopardy.  There was a severe and open 
violation of civil rights on offering equal protection by the law in 
Tattnall County.  This violation of safety was not a gay thing or a 
straight thing it was a human thing and a violation of human safety and 
human rights occurred.



Contact Info:
Vicki Blankenship
Indiegrrl Women in the Arts, Inc.
P.O. Box 4021
Martinsville, VA 24115
276-224-0485
Vicki at indiegrrl.com <mailto:Vicki at indiegrrl.com>
http://www.indiegrrl.com






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