In absence of state enforcement, one Occupy protest tent lingers on plaza

Friday, March 9, 2012 at 2:32pm
By Steven Hale

More than 12 hours after a presumed deadline, one tent remained on War Memorial Plaza Friday afternoon with one Occupy Nashville protester vowing to defy the state.

A bill signed into law one week ago by Gov. Bill Haslam made camping on the plaza illegal, punishable by close to a year in jail and a $2,500 dollar fine. Upon signing the bill, Haslam issued a seven-day notice to the remaining Occupy protesters, giving them a chance to vacate the plaza before the law would be enforced.

Despite previous indications that several members of the group intended to risk arrest by defying the camping ban, only Chris Humphrey planned to do so early Friday morning as around 20 Occupiers awaited eviction on the plaza.

Earlier Thursday night the group had broken down the remains of the camp, before moving the final tent to the middle of the plaza. Although many had expected an early morning enforcement, similar to those of last October, the troopers never came.

As has been their policy, state officials declined to give specifics on how and when the new law would be enforced. Department of Safety and Homeland Security spokeswoman Dalya Qualls told The City Paper the department still hoped the protesters would abide by the law but that the state was prepared to enforce it, if necessary.

Asked if such enforcement would necessarily involve arrests, or might be limited to a removal of the remaining tent, she reiterated the specifics of the law.

“The law prohibits unauthorized camping,” she said. “Anyone can be down there and protest, they just can’t camp overnight.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 3/10/12 at 10:00

It is time for our Governor to come down and join you on the Plaza. Maybe, he would see how the other 99% live.

By: Ask01 on 3/10/12 at 10:03

Not having read the finest print and all the clauses, exceptions, and other provisions which make laws into a morass only lawyers dare encroach upon, I may be speaking out of turn (or my hindquarters,) but based soley upon what was reported:

“The law prohibits unauthorized camping,” she {Dayla Qualls} said. “Anyone can be down there and protest, they just can’t camp overnight.”

I perceive a loophole, to wit, so long as an individual or group is not 'camping' sleeping and living in a temporary domicile, they could stand and carry out protests on government property for as long as they can endure.

Removing them would, I, in my laypersons basic understanding of the Constitution, violate their right to peaceably assemble and seek redress for actual or perceived misconduct of the government.

I've reached the point I feel we must defend our rights to the absolute limit or witness government slowy and silently remove or curtail those rights.

We used to fly missions in the Berlin corridors and Control Zone, flying right up to, but not over the boundaries, using the entire width of the airspace. The rationale was by doing so, we could deflect any Soviet attempts to shrink the free fly zone over the German Democratic Republic due to claims of non utilization.

God Speed Chris and the rest. Use that space and make government grind their teeth in frustration.

Whatever you are protesting.

By: Ask01 on 3/10/12 at 10:13

Bravo, pswindle, I totally agree.

Let the governor come work with me in the warehouse and do an honest days labor. (YES! I finally found a job after three years searching!)

All politicians need to do a week a year at least getting their hands dirty and sweating like honest workers just to remind them how the rest live.

Personally, I believe they all politicians and the 1% lack the integrity and intestinal fortitude to put their money where their mouths are and demonstrate the ability to do the jobs which keep America running.

I believe if all the workers in America, and I do mean all hourly blue collar service industry workers would stage a one week strike, the country would grind to a halt.

On the upside, the amusing sight of upper management and CEOs trying to do those jobs, in addition to the nervous breakdowns, strokes, and heart attacks following such an action would provide a continuous stream of discussion fodder.

By: Ask01 on 3/10/12 at 3:02

I apologize for leaving an incomplete thought in my 10:03 comment.

What I had intended was to draw a comparison of the Soviets advancing an excuse of non utilization as grounds for denying access to air space and the possibility a U. S. governmental body could attempt to employ the same reasoning as justification for curtailing citizens rights of speech or access.

Perhaps not overtly on a national level, but on a state or local level, where leadership considers the territory a personal fiefdom, I'm not so certain the attempt would not be made.

Sorry if I confused anyone.

By: rickmuz on 3/11/12 at 3:52


By: rickmuz on 3/11/12 at 4:05

Ask01: It's not an incomplete thought. That has ALWAYS been the case. Nobody has EVER said The Occupy folks could not protest, day and night. They simply did not want them living there. Unfortunately for the State they don't have the kind of ordinance that Metro has that protected them from the same "occupation"

The sole occupy person is welcome to stay as well, but at some point the if that tent is still there or he/she is found to be sleeping they will take action.

And your analogy of the Soviets and air space is just far reaching. Some of you guys think way to deep into this. WHO is cleaning up the mess? ME and MY TAX MONEY this has always been the issue. I don't know where people got it into their head that "The Government" just wanted to quell free speech.

If you are an "Occupier" Go back down there, in fact go back down there in shift's so you can be there 24/7, go back down there everyday for the next 100 years and NOBODY will deny your right to assemble and protest... just leave the tents, sleeping bags, coolers and lawn chairs in the car.

My own humble opinion is this: I supported the original concept in NYC, thought it was a great idea. But there was ZERO coordinated effort and what started as a protest of big money and Wall Street soon became a plethora of causes. It was very quickly hard to distinguish between the homeless and the occupiers and exactly WHY everyone was there. As far as Nashville you could not even find a single voice; one TV station would conduct an interview and the person would say why they are there. Another station would interview someone else who was there for a completely different reason.

Occupy Smochupy

By: Ask01 on 3/11/12 at 7:41

What they were saying does not really matter, rickmuz, so long as they were allowed to say what they wished.

Perhaps I do overthink issues a bit much. I admit to that and have a long list of instructors over the years who will side with your assessment. but, perhaps it is better to over think an issue than to underthink. Particularly where citizens rights are involved.

Comparing the Soviets and state government was maybe reaching a bit. Or was it?
The police did move in and arrest people only to have a judge slap them down and order those arrested released, so I guess some rights were violated, weren't they?

Me, an occupier? No, but I do support their right to be wherever they wish on any piece of federal, state, or local government property regardless who they inconvenience or irritate.

In fact, I support anyone who questions any type of governmental authority.

I once read that when people fear their government, a state of tyranny exists, but when government fears the citizens, you have freedom.

The hippies had the right idea in the 60's but forgot their principles when they became the establishment. Maybe this can remind them of their forgotten struggle..