A newly formed arm of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement has planned a gathering at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza for noon on Thursday.
The group, Occupy Nashville, first appeared on Twitter and Facebook before holding a meeting last Sunday to organize and make plans for the demonstration as well as to discuss goals for the movement. For the time being, demonstrators will be sleeping at home, as no “occupation,” or overnight camp, is planned for Thursday.
The Occupy Wall Street protests, started Sept. 17 in New York’s financial district, have slowly garnered the attention of the national media, along with the support of figures such as Michael Moore, Cornel West and Noam Chomsky. They have also prompted hundreds of arrests and allegations of police misconduct.
A press release posted on the Occupy Nashville website this week expressed support for the ongoing protests in New York, describing Occupy Wall Street as “a rapidly growing movement promoting the separation of corporations from our government.” The release went on to list some of the group’s primary complaints.
“Occupy Nashville believes that corporate greed has corrupted our government, and 99% of the households in America have been harmed as a result,” the release reads. “People have been crippled by job loss, exorbitant student debt, predatory home mortgages, and declining or stagnant wages in spite of increased worker productivity. Corporate takeover of government has ruined our standard of living and is threatening a thriving future. The only solution is to remove their hand from our government.”
At the meeting Sunday, the so-called General Assembly held at Fannie Mae Dees Park, about 150 or more people gathered to discuss various facets of the movement, including interaction with the media, legal strategy and political demands. There, members agreed upon primary goals — ending corporate personhood and the separation of corporations from government — and decided not to endorse any political candidate as a group. Leaders of the assembly also suggested reading material for those planning to engage in civil disobedience.
Toward that end, a post Wednesday on the Occupy Nashville website encouraged participants to read the Tennessee ACLU’s “Your Rights” brochure and offered advice on how to behave while protesting and in the event of an arrest.
“Please do your best to avoid getting arrested,” the post read. “You are needed out protesting, not in jail.”
In an email to The City Paper, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security communications director Jennifer Donnals said the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the division in charge of State Capitol security, is “aware of the protest plans and will accordingly staff the Legislative Plaza on Thursday.” She declined to comment further.
Occupy Nashville has also been spreading the word, via Twitter and Facebook, about a “roadside rally” to be held Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in front of Centennial Park. According to the group’s official Facebook page, the Nashville Peace Coalition planned the rally, called “Stop the Machine, Close Wall Street,” but it shares “pretty much the same goals as Occupy Nashville.”