LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Addressing display removal at library – Huntsville Item




Clear skies. Low 54F. Winds light and variable..
Clear skies. Low 54F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: November 5, 2022 @ 5:51 pm

On, September 19, 2020, Mayor Andy Brauninger issued a proclamation that it was recognized as Huntsville Texas Pride Day.  This recognition means we have local Pride events in September, not necessarily in June like in other cities.
In 2021, our library had a display of LGBTQ+ books certain city council members were opposed to and wanted it and certain books removed though members of the public did not object to that display last year.
On August 31, 2022, the Read With Pride display was set up as planned.  Anti-LGBTQ+ activists circulated a flier on social media about the display and coordinated an email campaign to harass city management and council to bow to their demands of removing the display even though the display was not against city policy or the law.  
The city management brought in other city employees to remove all the displays, ostensibly to try to mask that the removal was specifically targeting LGBTQ+ titles in the Read With Pride display, to make it appear neutral when it is not. 
October 18, 2022, I observed a City of Huntsville Police Detective behind the front desk of the library after he had flipped through books which were then moved to rest on the back shelf.  The detective instructed front desk staff when the rest of the books they reserved were returned to the library, place them with these books, he would be back to collect them all, and then a decision would be made regarding whether they could remain in circulation or not.  These books included adult titles.  
Someone directed the police to take books from our library, someone who wants to decide what grown adults can and cannot have access to in our public library.  
These were not the children’s books included in the Read With Pride display.  One book he set apart from the others in the stacks was Gender Queer, an adult graphic novel, by Maia Kobabe.  
I addressed city council that evening, relaying what I saw at our public library.  As if in acknowledgement my comments were correct and accurate, the books which had been reserved and were being held on the shelf behind the front desk were placed back on the shelves and available to be checked out, but doing so still causes the computer to indicate it is under reserve by the police.
On October 19, 2022, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to determine who had abused their authority by misusing the police.  I have yet to hear anything about my request.  I am very concerned following the cybersecurity incident, the documentation will now magically disappear. 
I returned to the library on October 20, 2022, to pick up my reserves, including Gender Queer which I was now allowed to check out.  Indicating it is not pornography, the police did not and could not declare it to be so or remove it from circulation.
I am extremely concerned someone in city management ordered the police to engage in these actions which represent a violation of citizen’s constitutional rights to access information.  Our police are wonderful, but this is far beyond their scope and training.  
The narrative developing (because small town, everybody talks) does not match my own observations. This needs an objective, independent investigation.
Amanda Louie 
Huntssville, Texas
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First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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