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.”