Haslam Defends Decision
Gov. Bill Haslam said he approved plans to enforce a new curfew on Legislative Plaza at 3 a.m. Friday because the situation had “deteriorated” to the point that action was necessary, reports the Tennessean.
Haslam defended the arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters for trespassing on the ground that protesters were informed 14 hours in advance of that a curfew would be implemented at 10 p.m. The arrests were made even though a state spokeswoman had said protesters would be given an opportunity to apply for a permit to use the plaza.
“It was my understanding that we were going to enforce the curfew from the very beginning,” Haslam said after attending a University of Tennessee trustees meeting in Knoxville. “In 14 hours, you should have time to decide whether you’re going to stay or not.”
Haslam said his administration was responding to complaints from lawmakers and the general public about sanitary conditions and safety on Legislative Plaza.
Judge Defends Dismissals
Night Court Magistrate Tom Nelson has sent an email to Davidson County’s General Sessions judges explaining why he refused the THP’s request to sign criminal trespassing warrants against Occupy Nashville protesters.
In the email, obtained by The Tennessean, Nelson said he ordered all of the protesters released from custody because the state had not given the protesters adequate notice that it was changing the rules regarding how and when they could assemble on Legislative Plaza.
Nelson said “until the new rules and regulations were promulgated there was no crime of Criminal Trespass pertaining to this group of persons for the past 3 weeks.”
He noted “It is of particular consternation that the rules and curfew were enacted after a protest movement and occupation of Legislative Plaza had been tolerated for just over 3 weeks, with no notice that the group members were involved in criminal activity.”
Nelson said the protesters should have been given a “reasonable opportunity” to apply for the requisite permit.
Arrests Fuel Occupy Flames”
The state’s attempts to rein in the Occupy Nashville protests that have called Legislative Plaza home for three weeks may have served only to fan the flames, according to The Tennessean.
If nothing else, the protesters have a new chant to add to their repertoire.
“Remember the Nashville 29” is a reference to the protesters who were arrested at 3:10 a.m. Friday when they refused to vacate the plaza. It was among the rallying cries as the group defiantly marched back toward the Capitol upon their release from the Criminal Justice Center shortly before 9 a.m. Their arrests gained them publicity and new supporters, as well as lawyers promising to file lawsuits on their behalf.
“Everybody likes an underdog, and when you take steps against a group, that gives them a lot of publicity and things along those lines,” said Marc Hetherington, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. “You can defeat the purpose of what law enforcement had in mind in the first place.”
The arrests appear to have incited people who didn’t necessarily support the movement, but who are appalled by the government’s response.
“It is absolutely my intent to be there in the next few days,” said Grae Taylor, of Knoxville. “It really feeds my fire and makes me want to be there to make my voice heard.”
Nashville defense attorney David Raybin said that he doesn’t think the Haslam administration thought things through and that the arrests could touch off a “second movement.”
List of Those Arrested Friday
As reported by WSMV: There were 29 Occupy Nashville protestors who stayed on the Plaza and were arrested. These protestors received Class C Misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing.
Those arrested were: Connie L. Smith, 30, Murfreesboro; Shauna C. Pluskota, 25, Nashville; Elizabeth L. Drake, 22, Memphis; Mark A. Vanzant, 22, Murfreesboro; Darria J. Hudson, 23, Nashville; Stoyocho M. Velkovsky, 21, Nashville; Michael P. Custer, 47, Nashville; James R. Bradley, 39, Nashville; Michael Anger, 30, Lexington, Ky.; Jeremiah M. Carter, 19, Bellevue; Tristan P. Call, 25, Nashville; Corey B. Amons, 23, Cottontown; Eric C. Painter, 44, Smyrna; Michael T. Weber, 35, Fayetteville; Lindsey G. Krinks, 26, Nashville; Alexander Pusateri, 20, Memphis; Megan L. Riggs, 25, Nashville; Eva N. Watler, 34, Pegram; William R. White, 21, Mt. Juliet; Adam K. Knight, 27, Smyrna; Robert J. Stowater, 27, Memphis; Christopher L. Humphrey, 24, Nashville; John H. Allen, 36, Nashville; Jeremy L. Scott, 27, Hermitage; Lawren M. Plummer, 24, Nashville; Scott P. Akers, 42, Madison; Paula E. Painter, 55, Cumberland City; Alesandra T. Bellos, 33, Nashville; William W. Howell, 64, Nashville.
Note: Fof political junkies, the best known Friday arrestee is Bill (William W.) Howell, who actively lobbies for Tennesseans for Fair Taxation. He’s also the oldest. Howell talked about his arrest to Jeff Woods.
Reporter Among Saturday Arrests
The Nashville Scene’s Pith blog reported a Scene reporter, Jonathan Meador, among those arrested in the Saturday morning round.
And Some Localized Reports
Four Rutherford County residents were among a total of 29 people rounded up and temporarily jailed after refusing to leave Nashville’s Legislative Plaza early Friday morning, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.
Rick Locker discovered that three of the 29 protesters in the first round of arrests were from Memphis,,,, and officers apparently misspelled the name of one on the arrest warrant..
The Occupy Wall Street movement is planning another peaceful protest in downtown Knoxville this afternoon and while confrontations have occurred at other Occupy events across the country, Knoxville police are anticipating a peaceful event, reports the News Sentinel.
Haslam Defends Decision