Judge: Tennessee Acted Illegally When it Arrested Occupy Nashville Protesters

Jul 3, 2013

Attorneys representing Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and state agencies are appealing a federal court ruling that says members of the group Occupy Nashville were illegally arrested two years ago.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger decided last month that Tennessee and local agencies improperly handled protests by the group Occupy Nashville during the fall of 2011. State officials said the Occupy encampment at the War Memorial Plaza was a public safety concern.

The Tennessean reports Judge Trauger said that when arrests were made the state was essentially making law by fiat and violating the first amendment rights of protesters.

Tennessee officials created what they called a “use policy” that essentially outlawed overnight use of the plaza for assembling. After some protesters refused to leave, the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 55 people.

Following the arrests, a federal court issued a restraining order, preventing the state from enforcing its new policy.