Gov. Bill Haslam is standing by his administration’s decision to arrest Occupy Nashville protesters who violated the state’s newly written Legislative Plaza curfew policies, saying it was necessary to ensure public safety.
He said complaints were rolling in from lawmakers of both parties, staff and personnel from the Department of General Services who reported having to clean up human waste at the Plaza.
“We’re not out trying to prove a legal point. This isn’t fun for us or our Highway Patrol officers,” Haslam told reporters. “But we feel we have a responsibility for safety, and if something happens there, I can promise you this whole group will just be here saying, ‘Governor, how did you let that happen?’”
When asked whether he would have pursued the arrests if he could make the decision over again, the governor said he felt his original decision was “reasonable.”
“We thought it was important to set up a curfew. It’s common sense. There’s people living, people camping down there, and there are no public restroom facilities, and the crime had become an increasing issue. And so we set a curfew, which we again, felt like is reasonable. That being said, the only way to enforce a curfew is to do what we did,” said Haslam.
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday that bars the state from making further arrests for protesters occupying the plaza following 55 arrests late last week. The state and lawyers representing Occupy Nashville protesters have until Nov. 21 to agree on a set of new policies.