A Republican state legislator in Tennessee has introduced a bill to root out and eliminate so-called “no-go zones” in the state, despite no evidence that such zones exist in Tennessee or anywhere else.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Susan Lynn, instructs the state attorney general to “report to the department of justice that a no-go zone exists within political subdivisions of the state” and to then “take all necessary steps to eliminate the no-go zone to enforce compliance with state and federal law.”
It defines a “no-go zone” as “a contiguous geographical area consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area.”
Lynn told the Tennessean that her bill was not meant to target Muslims, although she had heard of “no-go zones” being established by “certain religious groups.” She added that her effort is “the same sort of thing” as federal efforts to desegregate schools:
[Lynn] argues her bill doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Muslims. She said banning such zones will combat systemic problems and protect commerce.
"You might find it with gang activity, you might find it with organized crime, and of course we have heard that there were some places where it is happening with certain religious groups," Lynn said.
There are already laws that prevent gangs, or anyone else, from harassing people in public spaces. Lynn argued those laws might help prevent one-time events, but they're no use for "a systemic" problem. She said the federal government intervening to force public universities to allow black students to attend during the Civil Rights era is "really the same sort of thing."
"People were prevented from getting an education. Do you call the police for that? Well no, that's not the right mechanism. They had to call the Department of Justice," Lynn said.
Tennessee has long been on the forefront of combatting nonexistent Muslim threats, passing one of the nation’s first Sharia law bans in 2010. The sponsor of the senate version of Lynn’s bill is Bill Ketron, introduced a bill in 2011 that would have jailed anyone who personally adhered to Sharia law, and once fretted that a low-set bathroom sink in the state capitol was installed for Muslims to wash their feet before prayer (it was, in fact, meant for janitors to wash their mops).