Tennessee Protesters Arrested for Second Straight Night

Tennessee protestersTennessee state troopers for the second
straight night arrested Wall Street protesters for defying a new
nighttime curfew imposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in an effort to
disband an encampment near the state Capitol.

Pictured: Occupy
Nashville protestors who were arrested overnight at Legislative Plaza
in downtown Nashville, hold up their citations after they were released
from jail Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 in Nashville.


And for a second time, a Nashville night judge dismissed arrest warrants of the arrested protesters.

The
Tennessean newspaper reports that Magistrate Tom Nelson told troopers
delivering the protesters to jail that he could “find no authority
anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative
Plaza.”

Occupy Nashville protesters –
including many of the 29 arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Friday –
returned to the Legislative Plaza that evening and remained through the
10 p.m. curfew.

“To see it from the other side
is even more infuriating,” said Chip Allen, one of the protesters
arrested in the first raid. “When you’re in it, it’s almost surreal.
This takes on a whole `nother flavor.”

More
than 200 people came to Friday evening’s meeting to discuss the first
round of arrests and future plans, though those numbers had dwindled as
the night wore on and temperatures dropped.

There
was no noticeable law enforcement presence for nearly two hours after
the curfew went into effect, while adjacent theaters let out and patrons
filtered back through the plaza to their cars without being challenged
for violating the restrictions.

“Nothing was
done to them, they were not arrested,” said protester Michael Custer,
46. “But we are arrested while we are expressing our constitutional
right to free speech.”

Once the theater
traffic cleared, dozens of state troopers descended on the plaza and
began arresting protesters and a journalist for the Nashville Scene, an
alternative weekly newspaper.

Troopers
wouldn’t give any details other than that a press release would be
issued later Saturday. After the arrested protesters were handcuffed,
photographed and put on a bus, one trooper told another at the scene
that 26 people had been apprehended.

Protesters remaining at the scene vowed to return Saturday, even if it means more arrests.

The
29 demonstrators arrested early Friday were taken to the Nashville
jail, only to have Nelson, the night judge, rule the state had not given
them enough time to comply with the new curfew. They were instead
issued misdemeanor citations for trespassing, which carry a $50 fine if
they are found guilty.

It was not immediately clear whether other charges would be filed against those arrested Saturday morning.

The
Haslam administration has cited what officials described as a
deteriorating security and sanitary conditions on the plaza, saying that
acts of lewd behavior had been observed by workers in state office
buildings.

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons
said it was unrealistic to meet requests from protesters for a stronger
law enforcement presence to help deter thefts and altercations often
involving homeless people who had attached themselves to the encampment.

“We
don’t have the resources to go out and in effect babysit protesters
24-7 … at the level that would have been necessary to address their
concerns,” Gibbons said during a press conference Friday.

Source: Eric Schelzing, The Associated Press

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