All charges against Occupy Nashville protesters dropped

Monday, November 14, 2011 at 10:16am
By Steven Hale

All charges resulting from the recent arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters have been dropped and will be expunged.

Assistant district attorney Rosemary Sexton, in a brief statement before the court, asserted that the protesters were given adequate notification of the curfew and knew they would be arrested if they ignored it, but said justice was best served by dropping the charges.

"With all that has transpired since that time, it is in the interest of justice to dismiss these charges," she said.

The dropped charges include those leveled against two working journalists, Nashville Scene reporter Jonathan Meador and MTSU student-journalist Malina Shannon.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s office on Friday announced that the state would request that the charges be dropped.

In a press conference outside the courtroom Monday morning, representatives from Occupy Nashville, including several who had been arrested, declared victory.

“We won again,” Dorsey Malina said. “While we are sure that Gov. Haslam would like some thanks too, since he suggested that our charges be dropped, he will get no thanks from us.”

As for repeated assertions by the state that the plaza has become ground zero for a number of unsavory activities, the victorious protesters took the opportunity to refute those charges to the cameras and assembled media.

“It is disappointing that the state continues to spread lies about us and our message,” said Darlene Neal. “Let us be clear yet again: We have a very strict code of conduct that our members are required to adhere to. None of our members have been defecating, urinating or having orgies in public. We simply don’t have time for that sort of thing.”

A preliminary injunction hearing set for Nov. 21 is the next step in the group’s lawsuit against the state. Attorney David Briley, who is representing Occupy Nashville in the suit, said Monday that he is optimistic about reaching an agreement before then. 

Going forward, Occupy Nashville representatives said they will hold a demonstration this afternoon at the headquarters of the nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America.

25 Comments on this post:

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 11/14/11 at 11:42

Nice to see a reasonable resolution.
Now get to an agreement and drop the lawsuit.
Nashville has handled the situation better than many other places.

By: PKVol on 11/14/11 at 12:36

I agree with the right to assembly and protest. Having said this, I don't agree with the fact that the protesters have set up camp at Legislative Plaza. Tents and port-a-potties are not necessary for speech and can be regulated without infringing upon the 1st Amendment.

By: JohnGalt on 11/14/11 at 1:35

When will the doublewides arrive? The squatters can't be expected to spend the long, cold winter sleeping in tents on the hard, cold War Memorial Plaza marble, can they?

By: govskeptic on 11/14/11 at 1:56

The State still needs to go forward with this next hearing before the Federal
Judge scheduled later this month from the ACLU lawsuit. State agreed to stop
the arrest at the first hearing without fighting the petition. Now, it's time to fully
argue the case for restrictions against over night camping as well as to the
restrictions of certain night hours being off limits to protestors. Such limits
would have absolutely nothing to do with 1st Amendment or Rights to
Protest! I don't think the Judge would restrict the State from those measures.

By: fair_minded on 11/14/11 at 4:07

To those of you suggesting that it's OK to restrict hours and to ban overnight protests, *what* hours of the day do you recommend that the First Amendment be in effect??

Do you have suggested hours for the Second Amendment? Third? Fourth? on down the line....

Are there certain hours that you'd like to see the Constitution as a whole be in effect??

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

What part of that do you not understand?

do you understand "shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"?

do you understand that "speech" is not just words, but also gestures and actions? For instance, this is what makes it legal to burn a US flag in protest (or a draft card for that matter).

You may not like what they're saying, how they look or what they're doing, but they certainly have the right as an American citizen to do what they're doing.

By: localboy on 11/14/11 at 4:31

It would seem that any who don't agree with their little camping trip should be able to walk through their improrvised living rooms with relative impunity, as long as no personal property is damaged.

By: Nitzche on 11/14/11 at 11:42

where is the homeless? it is open house on legislative plaza!

By: bfra on 11/15/11 at 4:36

From what I have seen, the homeless just found a replacement for "under the bridge" at legislative plaza!

By: PKVol on 11/15/11 at 11:40

Erecting a tent and sleeping overnight is not 'speech' in any context. Occupation is not 'speech' and can legally be regulated. If a government building can have open hours, no one shold have the ability to force them to open during hours when it is not posted to be open.

By: nash615 on 11/16/11 at 8:33

Eventually the state will construct valid rules governing the time, place, and manner of protest at Legislative Plaza, but they will have to do so in accordance with TN laws' own provisions on how those rules are developed. Haslam and his thugs ignored their own regulations when they rushed in "rules" to protect black-tie donors at the TPAC gala from having to see a homeless person on their way across the plaza.

As to the questions about where [are] the homeless -- many of them are frequenting legislative plaza. There is food, shelter, and the presence of other humans on the Plaza. In a way, this is the first time a lot of them have been in an environment where people aren't just trying to arrest them, run from them, or legislate them away at every opportunity.

By: TNCitizen on 11/16/11 at 11:19

If flag-burning and corporate political contributions are protected speech, then a 24/7 witness to the depth of your convictions should be protected, too.

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