Updated 9:50 a.m.
State troopers just after 3 a.m. Friday morning arrested 29 Occupy Nashville protesters, enforcing a new overnight curfew on the grounds.
The protesters were released shortly after 9 a.m. Friday. A court date has been set for the group in Davidson County General Sessions Court for Nov. 19.
At 3:10 a.m., 75 troopers arrived on the plaza and asked protesters to leave the area. A group of about two dozen protesters moved to the surrounding sidewalks, which are under city jurisdiction, to avoid arrest. Troopers arrested the 29 protesters who refused to leave.
Friday morning, Occupy Nashville organizers said that protesters were “handcuffed with zip-ties, photographed and guided into a bus that contained holding cages.” The release, posted on the Occupy Nashville website, also alleges that SWAT teams and K-9 units were involved in the arrests.
All along, protesters have made it clear that they intend to stay put and have announced plans to return Friday evening for a General Assembly on the plaza steps. A member of the group’s media team told The City Paper Thursday that the possibility of relocation had been discussed, but that no consensus had been reached yet.
Until this morning, state officials had been unclear about how and if they would enforce the newly imposed 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on the plaza and surrounding grounds. Commissioner Bill Gibbons supported the state’s actions in the following statement:
“The Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security took the appropriate action to support the state’s revised policy that the Legislative Plaza is not to be used at night without specific authorization,” Gibbons said. “The policy was revised for security reasons, and the protestors were aware of the policy. The process was handled by state troopers in a professional manner and without incident.”
State officials explained via release the timing of the arrests, which came more than five hours after the curfew went into effect at 10 p.m.
“The Dept. of Safety and Homeland Seurity enforced the policy at the least disruptive time to citizens who visit, work and live in downtown Nashville,” the release reads.
At a press briefing Friday morning, Gibbons said Gov. Bill Haslam was briefed on the situation and that his office approved the operation.