Police Clear Nashville Plaza, But No Occupy Arrest
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) – Governor Bill Haslam said his intention is to avoid arresting Occupy Nashville protesters unless there is a flagrant violation of the new law intended to evict them from their camp near the state Capitol.
The law, signed by the Republican governor, prohibits camping on state property that is not specifically designated for it.
Occupy Nashville said about 30 troopers came onto the Plaza around 3:50 a.m. Monday.
State troopers had an opportunity to arrest 24-year-old Christopher Humphrey early Monday morning. He was maintaining his vigil at the group's camp on War Memorial Plaza.
Instead of arresting him, Humphrey said the troopers removed his tent, as well as two others near the plaza. State workers then began pressure washing the plaza.
The group said the troopers initially removed their information table, donation box, and other protest materials, but the troopers agreed to return them after talking to occupiers and their legal team.
Haslam later told reporters that he doesn't want to put anyone in jail unless "somebody is just flagrantly disobeying the law."
Following Friday's deadline to leave the Plaza, only one tent had remained on the property.
Occupiers said the law does not prevent them from using the Plaza 24/7 to continue their protest. They said they will maintain their information table, and will continue organizing, rallying and holding General Assemblies four times a week on the Plaza.
The protesters were given a seven-day notice to remove their campsites. Violators can face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
The Occupy encampment began in October.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)