The state legislature is swiftly acting to pass a new law aimed at removing, fining and jailing the Occupy Nashville protesters. Legislators actually have to see this group, hear complaints about them being there, and as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says - these folks aren't really protesting, so there are no "free speech" concerns to worry with.
"Average protesters, usually on some defined day centered around a specific issue, march or congregate en mass to demand redress of a specific grievance. Normal protests can get loud and they can get rowdy. Frequently, they can last long into the night. On rare occasions, they can last a few days.
Occupy Nashville is quite a different animal. This protest is not really a protest at all. It is, as the name implies, an occupation. I value our constitutional rights -- the freedom of speech most of all. Without the freedom to directly confront our leaders, our constitution isn't worth the parchment on which it's printed.
However, to continue to ignore the reality of Occupy Nashville would be to shirk my duties as a public servant. I have to tell the truth and the truth is this: your War Memorial Plaza - a place dedicated to Tennesseans who paid the ultimate price in service to their nation and fellow citizens - is no longer a place for visitors. It is unsightly, it is unclean and, depending on the time of day, it is downright dangerous."
There are anecdotal stories about the protesters acting badly - and don't we have laws already which could be brought to bear to arrest folks behaving badly? This new proposed law would make a crime of long-term protests.
And they do actively express their views in ways which must truly annoy the legislature - removing, arresting and fining those who take part seems more to be for the comfort level of elected officials than anything else