On Friday, 2 March, Governor Bill Haslam signed into law “the measure that makes it illegal for anyone to camp on state-owned land that is not specifically designated for that purpose.” Gov. Haslam also gave Occupy Nashville a seven day notice to leave or face the maximum fines of $2,500 and /or 11 months and 29 days in jail, echoing an earlier comment made by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey .
Chris Humphrey strides across history’s stage
Chris Humphrey has decided to sacrifice himself to test the new law. “I believe in going hard or going home, and I ain’t got a home.” He added that, “If I have to sit in there, I’ll sit in there for a year or six months,” he said. “I’ve been here for five months. I’ve been through tornadoes, the cold. I’ve been frostbitten and all that. I don’t care about six months, sitting in no jail.”
Chris has been my liaison while I serve as FDL liaison with ON. He’s a quiet, soft spoken man, who’s experiences belie his 24 years. He’s been a key part of ON’s logistics team, and as the only full-time liaison team member (as in 24/7 camper), has been handed more than his share of headaches from the sometimes fractious mix of Occupiers and homeless hangers-on. He was in great spirits today, and as the Plaza will feature a wedding tonight, his tent was moved stage right for the revelers. But don’t think that tipsy wedding guests will be his only companions, ON has been there with him. And they will continue to be with him. I’m proud to know him and write about him.
But will the police be there for him? Various people have asked that question, and the protracted eviction process has been a bumpy ride. They’re a day late as of this (Saturday 10 March) post, and “If you give someone an ultimatum, you need to make sure you do what you say you’re going to do, or ultimatums don’t work very often after that.”
It wouldn’t be ON without a future, no matter how tenuous the present may be. First and foremost, they need bodies to man the information table in the Plaza. Any vitriol ON releases among themselves is negated by the righteous anger they express towards our wealth-friendly government. Wednesday featured a “Day of Rage,” and Thursday was an “International Women’s Day Celebration.”
There is also the matter of the white supremacist Amren Conference at Montgomery Bell State Park, 16-18 March, 2012. Monday is also the 1st anniversary of the tsunami that trashed Japan, and a “die-in” is planned. Show up and fall down.
As if your Monday won’t be busy enough, in the ON tradition, there’s the inevitable more. A Day of Equality (scroll down) is planned, with Nashville in Harmony scheduled to perform at the Plaza. The Tennessee Equality Project will host a training session at the Oasis Center about Advocacy 101.
GA concluded with a discussion about the next phase of ON, initiated by Rowland Huddleston, who called for “the old hippy vision” which would “recreate society as if people matter.” He’ll have stiff competition from the TN GOP, who want to recreate society as if guns matter; but a broad-based grassroots movement ON discussed that could encompass community gardens, Food Not Bombs (and the AWESOME Beer Not Bombs), Transition Nashville, and a North Nashville neighborhoods movement for a start, is a pretty amazing vision from the gang that couldn’t agree straight a couple of weeks ago. You can count them down, but count them out at your own peril.
Updated at 4:24 pm. This morning at 4am, about 30 Tennessee State Troopers arrived at the Plaza. Early reports were confused, but ON has issued a statement, that states
At approximately 3:50 am, March 12, approximately 30 Tennessee Highway Patrol officers moved onto Legislative Plaza and evicted the last tent remaining of the Occupy Nashville encampment, ending one of the longest standing 24/7 occupy camps in the country.
Occupier Christopher Humphrey was in a tent and was dragged out by state troopers but was not arrested under the newly enacted unconstitutional anti-camping and anti-homelessness law. State officials initially seized and inventoried occupy property, including the information table, signs, flags, donation box, and all other protest materials. After a prolonged discussion with the legal team and occupiers, where concerns about first and fourth amendment rights were expressed, troopers agreed to return some of the property. The occupiers immediately reestablished the information table and prepared for a busy Monday morning.
The new anti-homelessness law does not prevent occupiers from using the plaza 24/7 to continue its protest against corporate personhood and money in politics. Occupy Nashville will maintain an information table on Legislative Plaza and will continue organizing, rallying, building alliances with other community organizations, fighting foreclosures and organizing tenants against slumlords. General Assemblies will continue to be held on plaza on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7pm and at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.
“Something that criminalizes … people is worth coming out here day after day,” Humphrey said.
Protester Jane Hussain agreed.
“I think we can definitely say there will be more tents on the plaza,” she said.
ON’s Legal Defense Fund
Here’s a video.
It’s in ‘em, and it’s gotta come out. This week’s tune is “Boogie Chillen’ ” by John Lee Hooker. What you do after watching and listening to this is up to you, but it will be cool.