The Death of Occupy Nashville?

111129-nashville-occupy-howell.photoblog600During my recent visit to Nashville, I was extremely saddened to notice the absence of Occupy Nashville from War Memorial Plaza. As one of the longest-lived branches of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Nashville was finally forced to vacate their occupation after nearly 160 days of sustained protest against the stacked deck against the 99% of Americans by corporate America and their Republican minions.

Three months ago, Occupy Nashville’s encampment at War Memorial Plaza swelled. Dozens of tents and a growing energy surged the political uprising: The movement drew attention to the influence of corporate cash on politicians and gross income inequality that has skyrocketed in America. Occupy Nashville even outlasted the movement’s mother camp — New York City’s Zuccotti Park — by three months. The movement established an elaborate process of communications — from security and logistics to first aid and food procurement.

Now the occupation is over, gone are the 60 tents which were erected at the camp’s apex. Rumors of sporadic incidences spread but as I strolled across the quiet plaza grounds, it was sad to see the inspired movement gone. The Republican Legislature had done a good for the 1% by trampling on Occupy Nashville and the constitutional right to free speech.

The camp’s food service station, media tent and library are gone. So are the young inspired protesters who joined the camp following two nights of highly publicized violent arrests ordered by Gov. Bill Haslam. The arrests of 50 people brought national shame to Tennessee because of Haslam’s heavy handed response to the movement.

Since those arrests, Occupy Nashville has expanded operations. But the movement now faces an uncertain future and hostile political climate in the Capitol which is filled with minions of the 1%, the Republican lead Tennessee Legislation.

The movement withstood bouts of cold, wet weather during the fall and winter, but supporters say that the state legislation — which effectively made it a crime to camp on public-owned property — dealt the movement the fatal blow.

For weeks, the Tennessee General Assembly debated legislation that effectively evicted Occupy Nashville from the plaza, citing a familiar chorus of complaints centered on lies and false accusations. The bill; HB 2638 sailed through the House, 70-26. The bill levies a jail sentence of one year and a $2,500 fine against anyone caught with “bedding for the purpose of sleeping … including tents, portable toilets, sleeping bags, tarps, propane heaters, cooking equipment and generators.” This law applies to the approximately 6,000 homeless in Nashville.

The thing that will fuel this movement is when the Occupy Movement becomes political; if that happens, the Teabagger movement will pale in comparison. In the meantime, the Tennessee GOP minions of the 1% will be rewarded when their election warchest are filled with corporate donations. The GOP selling out of Tennessee continues.

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