Friday, October 28, 2011

Aftermath of today's 3 AM red-state Tennessee raid on Occupy Nashville: judge finds "no probable cause" for arrests

As expected Republican Governor Bill Haslam gave the orders for what one reporter described as "a large force" of Tennessee state troopers to make a daring pre-dawn raid on maybe 2 dozen nonviolent Occupy Nashville dissenters asleep in their tents. The Tennessee Highway Patrol commandos descended upon the camp and cuffed and carried away the occupiers who brazenly sat down and sang, "We Shall Overcome." According to the Occupy Nashville Twitter feed: there were around 100 THP troopers with dogs and SWAT teams.

THP put on a rather sad display of early-morning detention and attempted arrest and further detention of the protesters in what looked like an attempt to snake-charm Commissioner Tom Nelson, who seemed to be having none of it. Commissioner Nelson found no probable cause for the arrests, likely because there was none. Governor Haslam intends to expend taxpayer dollars now posting sentries at Legislative Plaza overnight to keep any nonviolent protests from staying at the plaza past his bedtime.

As if these events were not troubling enough to those of us who value our fundamental civil rights in a free society, there is another bothersome coda. In the Associated Press follow up to the story, the Occupy Wall Street group in Oakland is falsely smeared:

Protester Albert Rankin said Thursday that the group intended to face arrests with "no hostility whatsoever" to avoid a repeat of violent shutdowns of protests in other cities this week.

"There were some shouts here and there, but for the most part, it was very peaceful," Rankin said of Friday's arrests in Nashville.

There is at least the veiled suggestion here that Oakland occupiers had something to do with the militaristic crackdown by the Oakland police department. But an earlier AP story on Occupy Nashville provides even more context for the west-coast victim-blaming:

Protester Albert Rankin said earlier Thursday that the group would face arrests with "no hostility whatsoever," wanting to avoid a repeat of Oakland, Calif., where an Iraq war veteran suffered a fractured skull in a scuffle with police, and in Atlanta where SWAT teams arrested protesters.

"We always remain peaceful here," said Rankin, 25, who has been unemployed for a little more than a year. "If we can get enough flower donations, we're going to give flowers to the police as they come to arrest us."

While the Tennessee Governor may appreciate it, the insinuation in this report is despicable. I followed the Oakland protests for hours before and after the police assault on Twitter, Livestream, YouTube, and in the local TV media. The Iraq War veteran, Scott Olsen (whom the Associated Press cannot even bring itself to name) was not involved with a scuffle with police when he was hit in the forehead by some form of large cop ammunition (widely reported as a tear gas canister). He was standing several yards away. And when other protesters rushed to his aid, Oakland cops lobbed a grenade at Mr. Olsen's prone body to make them disperse. The AP failed to verify their perspective with YouTube video evidence. Do you see a "scuffle"?

I don't know if Occupy Nashville rep Albert Rankin's words were twisted by the AP to fit their slant on Oakland, but I hope that Nashville occupiers are more conscientious and discreet with the media in the future so as not to discredit protesters in other cities when they defend their own goals. Oakland cops have a legacy of brutally cracking down on protest movements, including a 2003 protest against the Iraq War. I doubt very seriously that passing out flowers to the militant Oakland PD thugs would have made a difference for Scott Olsen who seemed nonviolent to me.

As for Occupy Atlanta, protesters there sat down and then were cuffed and hauled away. How is that so different than Occupy Nashville's experience? These unfortunate comparisons serve to justify rights-violating officials like Bill Haslam, Kasim Reed, and Jean Quan more than they defend Occupy Nashville.

UPDATE: News media video from this morning's raid on and removal of Occupy Nashville looks remarkably like coverage of Occupy Atlanta's experience (h/t Justin Mundie).

I also saw some occupiers here resisting and not going along "peacefully", although they did remain nonviolent.

UPDATE:  New video on Occupy Oakland in the wake of the police brutality that counters these assumptions of it being a violent movement:


  1. You know what's weird to me? How, back when there was outrage about the two hour long rape that happened unobserved in Bicentennial Park, there weren't sufficient funds for overnight police patrols in that area, but a handful of sleeping activists gets an overnight patrol? I run through the plaza a few mornings a week. The protesters have maintained a tidy camp, without interfering with passage through the plaza. Most of them even have belongings neatly placed outside their tents... Apparently, even the threat of theft is so low that their own belongings are unsecured. Just seems like a misaligned response.

  2. I'm a "liberal" who supports the National Rifle Association.

    I'm a Dem who did not vote for Gore years ago, because he was against the right to own arms.

    These vids demonstrate why libs and lefties should support gun ownership.

    Remember Lexington and Concord!

  3. A note to my above comment. From Wickipedia:

    The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War.[9][10] They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge, near Boston. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America.

    About 700 British Army regulars, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, were given secret orders to capture and destroy military supplies that were reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. Through effective intelligence gathering, Patriot colonials had received word weeks before the expedition that their supplies might be at risk and had moved most of them to other locations. They also received details about British plans on the night before the battle and were able to rapidly notify the area militias of the enemy movement.

    The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington. The militia were outnumbered and fell back, and the regulars proceeded on to Concord, where they searched for the supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 500 militiamen fought and defeated three companies of the King's troops. The outnumbered regulars fell back from the minutemen after a pitched battle in open territory.

    More militiamen arrived soon thereafter and inflicted heavy damage on the regulars as they marched back towards Boston. Upon returning to Lexington, Smith's expedition was rescued by reinforcements under Brigadier General Hugh Percy. The combined force, now of about 1,700 men, marched back to Boston under heavy fire in a tactical withdrawal and eventually reached the safety of Charlestown. The accumulated militias blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, starting the Siege of Boston.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his "Concord Hymn", described the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as the "shot heard 'round the world."[11]