NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Eight people were arrested as chaos erupted following a protest at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville late Thursday night.
Arrest warrants allege the protesters were involved in a “peaceful protest” on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol, along Charlotte Avenue.
The paperwork states the Capitol grounds close at “approximately 11 p.m.,” and the protesters were ordered to leave the grounds at 11:04 p.m., so barriers could be put up at a “perimeter.” When several protesters refused to leave, Tennessee Highway Patrol said troopers escorted them to the perimeter, but multiple protesters refused to leave and were arrested.
Online court records show the protesters face various charges, including criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Preston Thym, a protester, provided News 2 with video of the arrests and released a statement:
“On July 30th at 11pm protesters were exiting the state capitol when a THP officer pushed a protester for “walking to slow”. When the crowd expressed outrage that an officer put hands on someone for no justifiable reason the officer then stated the protester was under arrest. THP grabbed the protester again whilst pushing and choking other individuals nearby. As things escalated state troopers began grabbing other individuals who had arrived on the scene to record the violence.
You will notice in the video officers blocking the view and lenses of people trying to record. Eight protesters were arrested, five of which were people of color. You will also hear protesters asking THP what the charges for arrest to which they responded “distraction”. Practicing freedom of speech is a right not a distraction. Not one protester acted out in violence or in disobedience. We have been told to leave the capitol at 11pm each night and that is what we did. State Troopers escalated the incident by following individuals down the stairs and unlawfully grabbing/harassing a woman who was simply exiting the plaza.”
News 2 has reached out to Tennessee Highway Patrol for the agency’s response to Thym’s statement.