Dear Governor Haslam, Tennessee General Assembly, and Tennessee Highway Patrol,
HB 2638/SB 2508 not only criminalizes Occupy Nashville, but also further criminalizes all of Tennessee’s economically disenfranchised, unhoused citizens. If you want to criminalize Occupy Nashville and our unhoused neighbors, then say so. But don’t say you are evicting us because we don’t welcome other groups. Don’t say we threaten public health. Corporate influence in our political system is the real threat to public health, and when you stand on the side of corporations and criminalize your fellow citizens, you threaten the health of our democracy.
Occupy Nashville welcomes all people to exercise their First Amendment rights on the plaza. We seek to create an environment that makes other groups feel welcome, safe and empowered. We have worked with the Metro Public Health Department to address health concerns. It has never been possible to control the behavior of everyone who comes onto the plaza, though we take it upon ourselves to clean up and encourage everyone to follow the Code of Conduct, which discourages inappropriate behavior.
Despite knowing these things, you have continued to be hostile. In the early-morning evictions of October 28th and 29th, you declared war against the rights of your fellow citizens. You were overruled and reprimanded for infringing on our First Amendment rights and we have occupied Legislative Plaza since then.
Since October 8th, we have raised the consciousness of a generation and opened the eyes of the public to a system that perpetuates greed, injustice and inequality. The people of the world cried out against your attempts to evict us and we won an injunction barring your harassment. We have remained nonviolent, we have launched a successful campaign to halt the foreclosure of Nashvillians’ homes, we have taken to the streets to protest against corruption and injustice, and we reclaimed a derelict public building so that it could once again be used for public good. Now you are once again poised to enact an unjust law that will harm the public.
HB 2638/SB 2508 is an attempt to control, constrain, and manipulate public space to conceal the failure and inequity of the system you perpetuate. The visibility of unhoused people in public spaces is evidence that all is not well. Your system isn’t working when 25.7% of children in Tennessee live below the poverty line and when vacant housing units outnumber the people lacking affordable housing. You can’t lock people away in jail, declare success, and sweep suffering under the rug. Public property belongs to the public.
When you pass unjust regulations and use force, we grow stronger. If you pass this bill to evict Occupy Nashville and criminalize our unhoused friends, we will prevail in the courts and on the streets. You may expect actions like these:
1) We will occupy the State Capitol,
2) We will occupy public property (abandoned and in-use),
3) We will reclaim foreclosed homes, and
4) We will occupy the restrooms of all Pilot Travel Centers.
We take these actions in a spirit of love for our fellow citizens and unhoused friends. We hope you will respect the people’s right to use public property for public good. We stand in solidarity with our un-housed neighbors and occupations from New York to Nigeria, Murfreesboro to Memphis, Oakland to D.C. We stand for the rights of the people.Which side are you on?
Monday, January 30, 2012
Occupy Nashville Letter to Haslam
Posted by Sean Braisted
The Occupy Nashville protesters have issued an open letter to the Governor as we prepare to hear his State of the State speech in 30 minutes.
at 5:24 PM