Ramsey on Occupy Nashville: Move’em Out

Hours before the Haslam administration announced it would ask District Attorney Torry Johnson to dismiss charges against the Occupy Nashville protesters at War Memorial Plaza, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey expressed a get-tough stand.

“I think they ought to be removed,” Ramsey said. “I do.

“I’ll bet you that if I took a Boy Scout troop up there and camped out over the weekend, they wouldn’t allow them to do it. That’s just my opinion. I think they’ve gone way too far.”

But David Smith, press secretary for Gov. Bill Haslam, said Thursday afternoon that because of the temporary restraining order issued against the state in taking protesters away from the plaza, the state is seeking to drop the charges against those who were arrested.

State troopers arrested 29 protesters the night after curfew rules were put into effect at the site on Oct. 27, and 26 people were arrested the next night. The administration said it made the decision to arrest protesters in the interest of safety and because of unsanitary conditions involving the protesters, many of whom have set up tents at the plaza, which sits downhill from the front steps of the Capitol.

“As part of the effort to resolve issues surrounding the use of War Memorial Plaza, we’re beginning the process of establishing rules for use of the area by all citizens,” Smith said in a statement Thursday.

The administration had declared a curfew would go into effect at the site forbidding people from being there from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day, after it began to hear complaints related to the protesters. After the arrests, for two nights in a row, a magistrate refused to put the protesters in jail. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued a temporary restraining order on the arrests, and the state did not contest the order.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the protesters filed suit against the state, claiming an infringement on their First Amendment rights of free speech.

Smith said the process for establishing new rules will involve the pursuit of a “variety of perspectives to honor the plaza as a public space for all to enjoy. We look forward to having ground rules in place to ensure that it is a safe and clean environment.”

Smith said the state will work under the assumption that the temporary restraining order would be extended. He noted, however, that the state is not blocked from enforcing existing laws regarding public safety and health.

Ramsey said Thursday he never talked at all to Haslam about the protesters.

“The allegations that have been there that have gone on, with sexual misconduct, things of that nature, there is a limit to this, and I do think this is a public place, and everybody has their First Amendment rights, but I think they’ve overstepped their bounds, I do,” Ramsey said of the protesters.

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  • mickeywhite

    Education Is the Key
    Several decades ago, when forced busing had the entire city of Boston in an uproar (parents in numerous other cities were equally outraged), a delegation numbering many hundreds travelled from Boston to Washington to protest the practice. Once finished with their march in the streets, leaders headed for the offices of their Representative and Senators where they were promptly rebuffed. The individuals they had elected were “unavailable.” So they headed to the office of then-Congressman Larry McDonald, who was well-known nationally as a strong opponent of sending youngsters all over the city to comply with completely unconstitutional mandates and court decisions. Once there, they received a rude awakening.

    The late Congressman welcomed them into his office and promptly told them they were “fools.” Stunned, they listened as he explained that each of them had spent a considerable amount of money, taken time off work, disrupted their normal routine, and accomplished next to nothing. He said, “If each of you had instead put your money, your time, and your effort into a program to educate the voters in your district about what your elected officials are really doing, you would have accomplished something.” And he added: “You wasted time and money coming down to DC and you are no closer to achieving the goal you want than when you left Boston.” Who can disagree?

    It can’t be stated too often: There is no way to put government back in its proper place other than educating the voters. This was Larry McDonald’s message. It was Robert Welch’s message as well. And it is our message today. Other than divine intervention, which would surely be welcomed but should not be expected, public awareness of the problems our runaway government has caused — including cognizance of the betrayal by most elected officials of their oath to abide by the limitations in the Constitution — is the only route to reversing the plunge into tyranny.
    John F. McManus

  • http://www.tnteaparty.org Tami Kilmarx

    I can’t help but feel that if this had been the tea party, we would not have gotten away with any of this; there would have been no ACLU defending our rights. I am reminded that a few years ago a local tea party group held an event leaving, what we were told, “garbage everywhere.” This was not something that we looked favorably on, always packing up our own garbage and hauling it out of the area. Some of us went down there and picked up the area so we ALL didn’t take the fall for it. What “we” understand about this particular area, it is hallowed ground, many Tennesseans fought and died that we would have this particular form of government. Because it is “sacred” to us (though many who operate there are profane indeed), we cherish and honor the site. We would NEVER desecrate this site…our behavior must remain above reproach, regardless of how others may behave.

    Also, we (unlike Occupy) have always had a difficult time securing the Plaza for our events. The taxpayers own that property, we don’t seem to have a right to it, even for a few hours. We have been consistently told (since Apr 15, ’09 that it is forever “booked.” We have utilized help from “inside” to secure it, at least with just support from some. We know that at any moment we may be ousted. We never extend our welcome past what is reasonable. And if told to leave, we pack up and leave. We don’t dishonor the law enforcement guys out there. And because it is public sphere, we try not to be offensive to others who share that common space. They have as much right to be there as we do….many work there and are there on business. Even the homeless who occupy that space in the evening have a right to coexist there.

    Further, I have participated with a couple million others in rallies in DC over the past few years. We ALWAYS left the area around the Capitol and National Mall better than we found it, hauling our garbage away. We would never profane that area. For supposedly environmentally conscious ideologues who spew their diatribes against conservatives, it sure is a statement that they so defile the area wherever the show up….defiling it with garbage, lewd behavior, and all manner of human filth.

    I admonish Gov Haslam for dishonoring and embarrassing all of us in his ability to take a stand. Last week on the national news fronts, they were reporting he was the only local official nationwide not taking a stand. I was sick to hear this. And I don’t believe for an instant there were so few who standing against his policies (or lack) and so many hundreds who wrote him in support of Occupy. If the tea party had been out there doing what is now being done by Occupy, we would have been arrested, posthaste, no doubt. And we would have been paraded by the drive by media as the radicals they have wrongly accused us of being.

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