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TN Liberty Group Plans Protest of Alexander Voting Record

Press release from the Tennessee Campaign for Liberty; June 26, 2013:

Smyrna, TN – The TN Campaign for Liberty will be holding a protest outside of Senator Lamar Alexander’s event “Salute to the GOP Chairmen” at the Smyrna Air Center on July 20th, 2013. The protest will last from 3:30 until 5pm just outside of the venue. The protest will focus on Senator Lamar Alexander’s big-government and unconstitutional voting record.

A recent study by Congressional Quarterly shows that Senator Alexander voted with President Obama 62% of the time, more often than any other Republican Senator in the South.

“We think that his record is unacceptable and that he should’ve voted with the Constitution. He is tone deaf to the values of Tennesseans and he should change his ways” said Matt Collins a coordinator with the TN Campaign for Liberty. “Voting for more spending, more debt, a reduction in civil liberties, the bailouts, Obama’s Sotomayor Supreme Court confirmation, TARP, funding the IMF, funding the UN, pushing the Internet sales tax, voting for Obama’s Cash-for-Clunkers, confirming Ben Bernanke to Chair the Federal Reserve, refusing to audit the Federal Reserve, giving away our tax dollars to foreign governments who hate us, voting to expand the EPA, and voting to expand the FDA, are just some of the reasons that we are protesting Mr. Alexander’s big-government voting record.”

More can be found on Senator Lamar Alexander’s voting record at this URL: http://tncampaignforliberty.org/wordpress/2013/02/senator-alexanders-bad-votes-for-big-government-more-spending-more-debt-against-the-constitution-and-against-liberty/

The mission of the Campaign for Liberty is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, limited government, sound money, free markets, and a Constitutional foreign policy, by means of education, issue advocacy, and grassroots mobilization. The Campaign for Liberty was formed in 2008 after the conclusion of Congressman Ron Paul’s Presidential bid.

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Environment and Natural Resources Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Occupy Nashville’s Tent City Has 1 Week to Clear Out

It’s official: It is now illegal to pitch tents outside the Capitol Building or any other state-owned property not explicitly permitting camping.

Department of General Services says it will give Occupy Nashville protesters a week to clear off War Memorial Plaza, a marble topped public square the demonstrators have called home since the fall.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the legislative measure into law Friday, giving the state authority to begin enforcing the law today. However, Haslam has said he’s not interested in playing a game of “gotcha” with protesters and wants to give them a heads up before he puts the statute into play.

He told the Tennessean Wednesday he was still consulting with the Attorney General about whether the state should exercise the new law or first finish up changes to rules governing use of War Memorial Plaza.

He told reporters two weeks ago he planned on signing the bill into law but added it would be a matter of “months, not weeks” before the new rules would be finished, and he was unsure whether his administration would wrap that process up first before evicting protesters. That hearing is scheduled for April 16.

“We’re following the rule making process. We’ll have to talk with the attorney general and others to decide, once you pass the law, what does that give the state the authority to do,” he told reporters then.

Protesters can still demonstrate over night under the law, but tents and any other bedding must be removed by Friday, March 9. Punishment is a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense punishable with up to 364 days in prison and a $2,500 fine.

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Liberty and Justice

Occupy Bill Occupies Legislators

A bill to make camping on public property illegal passed both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees Tuesday, over the protest of members of the Occupy Nashville group.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who has been an outspoken critic of the protesters’ encampment, says the issue is one of safety, not squelching of First Amendment rights.

“I support our constitution and embrace with open arms our rights of free speech and assembly,” Ramsey wrote in a statement posted to his Facebook page after the measure passed overwhelmingly through committees in both chambers. “Liberal judges here in Nashville and on the federal bench can try and twist the law however they want but the reality is clear: this occupation has gone beyond speech and assembly and become an embarrassment — both to causes Occupy purports to support and the state of Tennessee at large.”

House Bill 2638 passed the House committee, 14-2, with the only dissenting members being Reps. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, and Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.

It also passed in the Senate committee, 7-1, with one legislator, Memphis Democrat Ophelia Ford, abstaining from the vote.

In the Senate hearing, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, expressed concern over the wording of the bill, and that it might be interpreted to prevent protesting in general. Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, voted against the bill.

The bills now go to scheduling committees before being heard on both chamber floors of the General Assembly.

The bills were each amended to make a violation a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of a a $2,500 fine and nearly a year imprisonment. It would have previously been a Class B offense.

“I think this bill is very redundant, because the acts that they’re pointing to are already illegal,” said Megan Riggs, member of Occupy Nashville.  “They do have the power to patrol the plaza and make sure it’s safe, not just for who they’re concerned about, the people that work here, but also the protesters on the plaza, the people that they’ve been elected to protect.”

The bill is being opposed by Occupy Nashville on the grounds that it negatively affects their constitutional right to protest and that it would criminalize being homeless.

But Judiciary Committee Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, the bill’s House sponsor, disagrees.

“It’s totally different,” Watson said. “They’re the ones bringing up that issue. They’re saying the that homeless are going to be arrested. Well, they can be arrested now, and that’s something they need to do the research on.”

Watson said homeless people could be arrested for violating local loitering laws.

Watson said that while he supports the Occupy Nashville members’ right to protest, he doesn’t perceive their activities to be a protest. He said he hadn’t seen signs or placards recently, for example. He was also upset that some members had been arrested for drug use and theft, and that a protester had urinated on a Capitol staffer.

“One of the employees that works at the plaza here was peed on,” Watson said. “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, and if you approve of that – if you think that’s peaceable assembly – you need to be peed on, see how you like it.”

There were a couple dozen Occupy Nashville members present at the hearings, with a few members speaking to the committee.

“When we the people said we want money out of politics, the U.S. Supreme Court said money was free speech,” said Michael Custer, an Occupy Nashville representative. “Well, if money is free speech, then surely a 24-hour vigil, seven days a week, through the rain and cold of our Tennessee winters must also count as free speech.”

Corporations have money to buy advertising on television and billboards so that their voices are heard, but the Occupy movement doesn’t have the money to buy advertising for their voices, Custer said.

“Those tents, they are our billboard,” Custer said.

This sentiment is shared by several other Occupy members.

“If money, in our country, constitutes free speech, then so does protecting yourself from the elements,” said Lindsey Krinks, a member of Occupy Nashville, “So does being out on a 24-hour vigil and keeping yourself dry and being able to sleep and maintain acts of daily living.”

There was some brief discussion between Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and Reps. Stewart and Camper in the House committee.

Dennis backed the bill, saying that it was the responsibility of elected officials to determine the best use for public property, and to protect it for use by all.

Stewart claimed that the bill was an attempt to take a peaceful protest and turn it into a crime, while Camper identified the Occupy movement with sit-ins from the civil rights movement of the ‘60s.

The Occupy Nashville group has been camped in Legislative Plaza since the beginning of October of last year in protest of the corrupting influence of corporate money on politics. Since then, a federal court judge issued an injunction barring the state from removing the protesters.

The Haslam administration attempted to remove the protesters from the plaza in October. A federal judge halted the arrests.

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Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Haslam Defends Occupy Nashville Arrests

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.

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Press Releases

State: 72 State Troopers Involved In Saturday Morning Protesters Arrest

State of Tennessee Press Release; Oct. 29, 2011: 

DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY & HOMELAND REMOVES PROTESTORS FROM LEGISLATIVE PLAZA, ISSUES CITATIONS

PROTESTORS ASKED TO LEAVE LEGISLATIVE PLAZA SATURDAY MORNING

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security early Saturday morning enforced a revised state policy that makes the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard, and Capitol grounds areas closed to the public from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily. The revised policy also states there shall be no overnight occupancy of the state properties.

State troopers asked Occupy Nashville protestors to leave the Legislative Plaza around midnight. At 12:10 a.m. troopers removed 26 protestors who refused to leave.  The protestors were transported to the Davidson County Jail where troopers issued them misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing (a class C misdemeanor). Two of the protestors were also charged with public intoxication. One was also charged with criminal impersonation. A total of 72 state troopers were involved in the curfew enforcement.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.

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Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Gibbons: State Can’t ‘Babysit Protesters 24/7’

Among the questions Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons fielded about the early morning arrest of protesters who had taken up residence on Legislative Plaza was what justified the new curfew and demonstrations policy.

It was, in part, protesters’ concerns about public safety and health conditions amid reports of individuals being victimized such as a woman being groped while playing a board game, a fight breaking out between homeless people and others using the area like a public bathroom, he told reporters in a press conference Friday.

“Protesters themselves approached the state earlier this week asking for some assistance to address the problem that they were facing. … I think what the Department of General Services was trying to do was strike a balance between making sure they had their right to peacefully protest, but at the same time, address the concerns they had, as well as others, over public safety and health conditions.

“They probably don’t see it this way, but I think we have set up a condition where they can peacefully protest under safe circumstances. We are not in a position, we do not have the resources to go out, and, in effect, babysit protesters 24/7.”

The policy issued Thursday closes down the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial and Capitol grounds from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and requires parties interested in protesting to purchase a permit from the Department of General Services pending approval of the Tennessee Capitol Commission.

Those permits will be good from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and groups wishing to demonstrate later will need a special use permit that may be issued at the discretion of the department.

Gibbons also discussed how he chose the 3 a.m. timing for the arrest of 29 “Occupy Nashville” protesters and said he disagreed with a night judge who refused to sign the warrants on the basis that there was no legal justification for the arrests.

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Press Releases

State Releases Names of Arrested Protesters

Press Release from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security; Oct. 28, 2011: 

Names of Protesters Arrested on October 28, 2011

Connie L. Smith, 30, Murfreesboro, TN

Shauna C. Pluskota, 25, Nashville, TN

Elizabeth L. Drake, 22, Memphis, TN

Mark A. Vanzant, 22, Murfreesboro, TN

Darria J. Hudson, 23, Nashville, TN

Stoyocho M. Velkovsky, 21, Nashville, TN

Michael P. Custer, 47, Nashville, TN

James R. Bradley, 39, Nashville, TN

Michael Anger, 30, Lexington, KY

Jeremiah M. Carter, 19, Bellevue, TN

Tristan P. Call, 25, Nashville, TN

Corey B. Amons, 23, Cottontown, TN

Eric C. Painter, 44, Smyrna, TN

Michael T. Weber, 35, Fayetteville, TN

Lindsey G. Krinks, 26, Nashville, TN

Alexander Pusateri, 20, Memphis, TN

Megan L. Riggs, 25, Nashville, TN

Eva N. Watler, 34, Pegram, TN

William R. White, 21, Mt. Juliet, TN

Adam K. Knight, 27, Smyrna, TN

Robert J. Stowater, 27, Memphis, TN

Christopher L. Humphrey, 24, Nashville, TN

John H. Allen, 36, Nashville, TN

Jeremy L. Scott, 27, Hermitage, TN

Lawren M. Plummer, 24, Nashville, TN

Scott P. Akers, 42, Madison, TN

Paula E. Painter, 55, Cumberland City, TN

Alesandra T. Bellos, 33, Nashville, TN

William W. Howell, 64, Nashville, TN

The Tennessee Department of Safety’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.

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Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

VIDEO: State Law Enforcement Officials Defend ‘Occupy Nashville’ Arrests

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons defended the predawn arrests of 29 Occupy Nashville protesters on Legislative Plaza Wednesday, saying the protesters had plenty of time to pack up and go home.

Gibbons made the comments at a press conference Wednesday morning, adding he decided it was best to make the arrest in the 3 o’clock hour to minimize public disturbance and to give protesters hours to leave the premises.

“We respect and support the right to peacefully protest. We’re simply urging those who want to engage in peaceful protests to adhere to the reasonable policies that have been issued by the Department of General Services. If they choose not to, then it’s our responsibility to take the appropriate enforcement action and we will do so,” said Gibbons.

The commissioner was joined by Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott, who said the troopers making the arrest acted with “incredible restraint.”

Both officials said it is the department’s job to enforce the policies written by the Dept. of General Services and deferred explanation of the policy to that department.

The protesters were issued misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing, which is a class C misdemeanor. They were released just before 9 a.m.  and await a Nov. 18 court date with the Davidson County General Sessions Court.

Protesters with the Occupy Nashville movement say they plan to meet in a General Assembly at 7 p.m. Friday to determine whether they will remain at the Legislative Plaza location or if they will move to space by the courthouse down the street.

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Press Releases

State Troopers Arrest 29 in Occupy Nashville Protest

State of Tennessee Press Release; Oct. 28, 2011: 

DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY & HOMELAND SECURITY ENFORCES STATE’S REVISED POLICY ON LEGISLATIVE PLAZA CURFEW

PROTESTORS ASKED TO LEAVE LEGISLATIVE PLAZA, STATE TROOPERS MAKE 29 ARRESTS

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security early Friday morning enforced a revised state policy that makes the Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard, and Capitol grounds areas closed to the public from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily. The revised policy also states there shall be no overnight occupancy of the state properties.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol, which provides security for Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard, and the Capitol grounds, asked Occupy Nashville protestors to leave the Legislative Plaza at 3:10 a.m. Approximately two dozen protestors left the plaza without incident. Troopers arrested 29 protestors who refused to leave.  The protestors were transported to the Davidson County Jail where troopers issued them misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing (a class C misdemeanor). The protestors were released shortly before 9 a.m. A court date has been set in Davidson County General Sessions Court for November 18. A total of 75 state troopers were involved in the curfew enforcement.

“The Department of Safety and Homeland Security took the appropriate action to support the state’s revised policy that the Legislative Plaza is not to be used at night without specific authorization. The policy was revised for security reasons, and the protestors were aware of the policy.  The process was handled by state troopers in a professional manner and without incident.  It is our responsibility to keep the protestors safe on state property, along with citizens who work, live and enjoy downtown.  We all must work together to ensure a safe environment,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security enforced the curfew policy at the least disruptive time to citizens who visit, work, and live in downtown Nashville.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.