Saturday, October 29, 2011

BREAKING: Night Court Judge researches and rules that he can find no authority to charge Occupy Nashville with curfew violation

Around midnight Friday/Saturday, the Twitter stream reported that Tennessee Highway Patrol conducted another raid of Legislative Plaza to arrest Occupy Nashville protesters who refused to let last night's raid deter them from returning to occupy the plaza in dutiful defiance of Governor Bill Haslam's arbitrary 10pm nightly curfew. Several reports from on-site revealed that a Nashville Scene reporter, Jonathan Meador, was cuffed and taken away, too. When a fellow reporter inquired about the detainment of Meador a THP officer replied, "You want to be next?" One observer reported that while rounding up protesters, THP allowed well-dressed TPAC ticket-holders to pass through the plaza after the curfew was in effect.

However, state troopers failed to get the arrest warrants for Occupy Nashville curfew violations that they sought from the same Night Court Magistrate who refused their requests Thursday night. According to Occupy Nashville, Magistrate Tom Nelson told THP:

I have reviewed the regulations of the state of Tennessee, and I can find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza.

The protesters are being released, and according to their Livestream they are planning to reoccupy the plaza this morning. Their Twitter stream also noted that the Magistrate's ruling may have far-reaching implications for other public spaces across Tennessee.

What interests me about these events is that state troopers have no grounds to de-camp Occupy Nashville overnight since the Magistrate continues to refuse to permit arrests. Any future detainment of protesters constitutes THP harassment. Also, it seems that Governor Haslam has blundered into a huge new set of problems over the legality of his curfews formulated specifically against the relatively small Occupy Nashville group. This is turning into a David versus Goliath story.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs, who was present to observe the raid, relays observations to the Nashville Scene that indicate that the state troopers may be starting to cross some boundaries:

I was there and witnessed troopers treating people - protestors and press - rudely. I was attempting as a freelance photojournalist to photograph police cuffing protestors and was deliberately interfered with by officers carrying video cameras who quickly jumped in front of me multiple times. A few minutes later, one put his hand on me, shoved me back a foot or two, asked if I was "media," (I said yes), and then he told me if I crossed "that line" again, I'd be arrested. There was no visible line.

UPDATE: Video of the THP pleading their case for arrest earlier this morning before the Magistrate and then getting denied:


  1. Too bad that judge was not an elected judge (with campaign funds supplied by Bank of America, Goldman-Sachs and various hedge funds), otherwise those hoodlums would be sitting in a gulag operated by Corrections Corporation of America at Bell's Bend.

    Mmmm. I hesitate posting this because CCA may jump on that notion. (Approval of a gulag at Bell's Bend run bt CCA could mean big campaign bucks for Dean's run for governor).

  2. Bell's Bend could become the prison for Occupy Walls Street criminals. It would mean lots of jobs. How dare you make a mockery of CCA. I'm gonna call my broker Monday morning. I think you are on to something.