Skip to main content

UPDATE, 3:06 AM Central:  I don't know how many people are still reading this, but Occupy Nashville has been evicted from Legislative Plaza.  There were 14 protesters there, and the state sent 100 troopers, PLUS dogs.  Arrests have been made.  Still trying to get more information.

This is going to be a quick diary, but the state of Tennessee is threatening to evict OccupyNashville from its encampment on Legislative Plaza in front of the State Capitol, and the eviction could come as soon as midnight tonight.

I no longer live in Nashville, but it's my hometown.  Nashvillians are far more progressive than the teahadists who currently control that Capitol building.  The 99% have occupied Legislative Plaza--a longtime public forum that has always been the site of demonstrations outside the Capitol--for three weeks, even making news on this site.  I want to help in any way I can, and I'm trying to get the word out as far as possible.

The statement from the Tennessee Department of General Services, which has jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds:

Effective immediately and until further notice, all assemblies and gatherings of persons on the State of Tennessee Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard and Capitol grounds areas in Nashville, Tennessee shall require a use permit from the Tennessee Department of General Services. Use of any portion of the Capitol grounds also requires the approval of the Tennessee Capitol Commission.

The Department of General Services may issue permits upon proper application and satisfaction of use fees, security and liability insurance requirements for use of the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard and Capitol grounds between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Special use permits for the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard and Capitol grounds during hours outside of the 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. period may be approved at the discretion of the Department on a case by case basis.

Notwithstanding the above, the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard and Capitol grounds areas are closed to the public from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily and no person shall enter upon those premises during this curfew period without specific authorization by the State of Tennessee. In no event shall overnight occupancy of the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard or Capitol grounds areas be permitted by any group or individual.

And the accompanying statement makes it absolutely clear why, after years of demonstrations at Legislative Plaza, the state feels this necessary now.  Basically, because of those "dirty effing hippies":

Criminal activity and deteriorating sanitary conditions over the past several days on Legislative Plaza have created an environment that is unsafe for the protesters, state employees and everyone who works, lives and enjoys downtown. As a result, the Department of General Services is adding to its policy for permitting and use of Legislative Plaza, the War Memorial Building and the Capitol grounds. Permits will be granted on a daily basis from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Side note: The Occupy Nashville protesters had previously raised the safety issue to the state, concerned about people not affiliated with Occupy Nashville harassing and threatening them.  The state's response?  Don't deal with that problem, just get rid of Occupy Nashville!

This is a blatant violation of the First Amendment rights of the demonstrators.  For the non-lawyers:  the government is subject to heightened scrutiny when it tries to regulate speech in a public forum.  A state is allowed to make reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on public speech, but only if the restrictions 1) are content neutral, 2) narrowly tailored, 3) serve a significant governmental interest, and 4) leave open ample channels of communication.  There's no question that this fails on at least the second prong of the test--to serve the governmental interest of keeping Legislative Plaza safe, no one, even people who aren't demonstrating, are permitted to gather on the plaza without a permit?  And, of course, the fact that this is being applied to Occupy Nashville now, when the teahadists were free to protest there all they wanted, indicates how "neutral" this really is.

And of course, there is nothing in that ordinance stating how the state would determine who gets a permit.  It's entirely left to the discretion of the Department of General Services.

Frankly, I've been around Tennessee politics for long enough to know how this will play out.  This will never, in a million years, be enforced against a conservative protest or against a prayer rally where the participants hold up gruesome pictures of bloody fetuses.  If you look at the comments on Nashville Scene or the Tennessean, it's clear that the teabaggers firmly don't believe this would apply to them, just to them lawbreakin' hippies.

You can watch the streaming video of Occupy Nashville here.  

Watch live streaming video from occupynashville2011 at

Right now, the General Assembly is debating whether to apply for the permit or not, or to pay the fee or not.  The consensus has already been reached to reconvene if evicted.

In the meantime, call Tennessee officials and tell them to stop trampling on Occupy Nashville's constitutional rights:

Governor Bill Haslam:  615-741-2001,

Steve Cates, Department of General Services:  615-741-2081,

Dalya Qualls, Tennessee Highway Patrol: 615-251-5131


Originally posted to GoldnI on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and Occupy Wall Street.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site