NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Mayor John Cooper condemned the violence that escalated in downtown Nashville following a peaceful protest Saturday night.
Cooper told News 2 that the Historic Courthouse in Nashville will be back online Monday morning following arsonists setting a fire inside and vandals covering the walls in graffiti.
Cooper said, “It is heartbreaking what happened at the courthouse. One of the heartbreaking things is the windows were smashed out but what was used to smash out the windows was the famous Diane Nashe commemorative plaque that commemorated how Nashville, with such civility, hosted on that very spot the great moment of civil rights in the struggle which is the lunch counter integration.”
Cooper said the incident was vandalism and arson, and has nothing to do with social justice.
Earlier Saturday, a continued fight for equal justice sparked a rally at the Legislative Plaza. Activists, politicians, protesters, and Mayor Cooper himself were in attendance.
Cooper told News 2 that he wanted to remind people to socially distance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We need to come together as a community realizes that a relatively I believe in the end small group of determined opportunistic vandals hijacked what is a message that we all need to hear kind of all the time. Equal justice under law is hard and we have to recommit ourselves every few years to getting that done,” Cooper said.
The original rally organizers said that when their protest ended, the riots began. Mayor Cooper said first responders did have a plan in place going into the event.
“We were seeing a disciplined police department not responding to what could be viewed as provocation very beautifully. We were being a national lesson and uh, you know in the end I think we’re going to realize that we need more officers, more help from the state sooner but what we need is we need for the public and for the leaders of every community to disavow this kind of action,” Cooper said.
Cooper said action distracted from the main goal of most people there.
There will be a curfew Sunday night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. The Mayor said they’ll keep The National Guard in place and all of their resources to help the people downtown feel safe.
The latest on the protests and riots following the “I Will Breathe” rally in Nashville: