Occupy Wall Street protesters have for two nights running been hauled off to jail in the middle of the night on laughable charges after the governor and his administration whipped up a little unconstitutional ordinance/curfew and then selectively enforced it.
“Curfew” lasts from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Last night, well-dressed theater goers were not arrested when they crossed the plaza at 11 p.m. When they had cleared the area, police moved in and arrested the protesters for the second time, including a young reporter from the Nashville Scene, who clearly identified himself as a journalist. What a badge of honor he’s collected!
An ACLU lawyer was on the plaza to bear witness so we hope a lawsuit will be swiftly forthcoming, and a request for an injunction.
Some points from the Nashville Scene’s Pith in the Wind blog:
“I have reviewed the regulations of the state of Tennessee, and I can find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza,” Judge Nelson told a grimacing trooper, before ordering the immediate release of everyone arrested.
Just after midnight some 20 Occupy Nashville protesters linked arms, awaiting arrest in violation of the Capitol’s newly enacted curfew. A 10-minute warning was issued at approximately midnight, and some 60 to 75 Tennessee state troopers stood ready to enforce it. [Math: Three or four to one.]
“If you cant protest at the state capitol where can you protest? … I say let them stay as long as they can stand up.” Hard-right state Rep. Stacey Campfield
“Governor Haslam’s administration was well within their right to impose a curfew on Legislative Plaza after mounting complaints by ‘Occupy Nashville’ protesters and local residents of personal theft, sexual obscenities, and defecation on the grounds by individuals staying for extended periods of time within Legislative Plaza. This was a matter of personal and public safety,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. [Say what? They never set a curfew for the homeless who have camped on the plaza for years, swimming naked in the fountains, and pissing on the columns. And if anyone in Tennessee uses more sexual obscenities than state legislators, I’d like to meet them.)
Defending the action, [Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam] said state officials “don’t really have the ability” to distinguish between law-abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment rights and street people who might have been causing trouble at the Plaza. [No problem “distinguishing the TPAC theater crowd last night.]
“You have no lawful basis to arrest or charge those people,” Metro Night Court Judge Tom Nelson