Governor Haslam on Friday signed the bill making it illegal to camp on state owned public property not designated as camping sites. This means Occupy Nashville will have to go. It is about damn time!
Enforcement will start a week from Friday. The penalty for unauthorized camping will be a fine of up to$2,500 and up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.
I support the right of people to peaceably protest but camping is not protesting. Allowing anyone who so desires, to camp out on public grounds not designated for camping is just nuts. For the first few weeks of the camp out, the state even provided them with free electricity. I never did understand that.
What is the difference between protesters taking over the War Memorial Plaza and tourist taking over the Bi-Centennial mall and pitching tents and parking RV’s? None. If the difference is that you have to say you are protesting, the tourist could protest the cost of lodging. Who is to say one person who is camping on public property is a protester and another is not? What kind of logic says you can just pitch a tent on state property and stay as long as you like and camp for free?
Unfortunately, we had an extremely mild winter this year or Occupy would probably already be gone. I was hoping for a really cold winter with lots of freezing rain. During Friday’s hard hail and strong winds I thought of Occupy. Maybe that bad weather caused a few more to fold up tent and go. The group which once numbered about 200 and consisted of as many as 60 tents in now down to about a dozen tents and many of the people who remain are homeless who have joined the movement for convenience rather than the original types that made up the Occupy movement. Some of the tents are even said to be empty at night. Still, Occupy Nashville is one of the longest lasting of the Occupy camp outs. The original Occupy Wall Street ended with a whimper on November 18th and despite lots of media attention it only lasted two months.
Nationally, Occupy has been a mixed lot from the very first with everyone from freaks, Nazis, libertarians, Communist, committed left wing activist, idealistic youth and a mixture of homeless people and people just looking to party. Nashville’s Occupy has engaged in various protest around the city and on the Plaza there have been fights and theft and incidents of public intoxication and public sex and filth and urinating on passersby. Nashville’s Occupy, however, has been much less violent than the Occupy of places like Oakland California which saw riots and major property damage and violence. Mainly Occupy Nashville has been a nuisance depriving the rest of the community from enjoying one of the most beautiful spots in downtown Nashville.
So, what will happen next week? If any of the original occupy is left, will they fade away before the deadline and go occupy their parents’ basement again or will they stand firm and force the police to arrest them and Occupy the jail? I really don’t care if they fade away or are hauled off; I just want to see them gone.