With all the attention that the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone has gotten, people in other states are considering trying their own attempt. An early attempt in Portland to create an autonomous zone was abandoned, but now people are looking into creating a Nashville Autonomous Zone. City officials and police, however, have said that they are not planning to clear out like officials did in Seattle. The Tennessee Holler was one of the first sites Heavy could find that shared a post online about Nashville’s Autonomous Zone. They said information about the first event on Friday night was sent to them by activists that they know well. Activists arrived and planned to camp out at the plaza on Friday night, even renaming it the Ida B. Wells Plaza.
A ‘Free Capitol Hill’ Rally Was Held in Nashville Friday Night
On Friday night, June 12, a Free Capitol Hill rally started at 5 p.m., according to a graphic that was shared on social media. The event took place at the Legislative Plaza.
The graphic reads: “Free Capitol Hill. Come prepared with food, water, tents, chairs, art, music, drums, noisemakers, pots & pans, +any other way to express yourself. Reclaim the Plaza for the People of Tennessee.”
The sign says it took place at the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (Formerly Legislative Plaza.)” You can see where the Legislative Plaza is located in the map below.
The sign also calls to “remove racist statues,” “demilitarize the police,” “fire Chief Anderson,” and “defund the police.”
Fourteen members of the Metro Council drafted a resolution calling for Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson to resign, Fox 17 reported. The ACLU-TN also backed the resolution draft. The resolution is being held as the Council members wait to see how Anderson and Mayor John Cooper respond, Fox 17 reported.
The event was dubbed by some people on a local subreddit as a call to create a “CHAZ South” of sorts.
You can see videos of the rally below.
Here’s a second video, where you can see people setting up a tent at the end.
The Governor & State House Speaker Say They Won’t Allow an Autonomous Zone in Nashville
Gov. Bill Lee has said that he won’t allow an autonomous zone to be created in Nashville like it was in Seattle, Fox 17 reported. In a full statement, Lee said:
We encourage Tennesseans to exercise their First Amendment rights and have seen many examples of peaceful protests across our state in recent weeks. As demonstrations continue, we will continue to protect Tennesseans’ right to peaceful assembly, while also reassuring citizens that lawlessness, autonomous zones, and violence will not be tolerated. Further, Tennessee law expressly prohibits camping on state property not expressly designated as a campground area, and that law will be enforced.
Nashville House of Representatives Speaker Cameron Sexton backed up Lee in a similar statement. He said:
I fully support the rights of all Tennesseans to peacefully assemble. However, there is a difference between peaceful assembly, and lawlessness or unlawful camping, occupying, and autonomous zones on state property. The General Assembly enacted laws after Occupy Nashville making it a Class A misdemeanor to occupy state property. I agree with Governor Lee’s decision to enforce our current laws, and the House is fully prepared to enhance this type of lawlessness to a felony before the 2020 legislative session concludes next week.”
Any attempts to occupy state property will be viewed as a Class A misdemeanor, based on laws started after Occupy Nashville, Sexton said.
Kris Mumford, Metro Nashville Police spokesman, told Tennessean that the police were aware of the rally and were working with other departments to monitor the situation.
A Representative from Tennesee, Rep. Mark Green, also said he would not support a second CHAZ in the city.
Activists Planned to Camp Out All Night & Renamed the Plaza the ‘Ida B. Wells Plaza’
One of the earliest shares about the event on Twitter and Facebook appeared to be by The Tennessee Holler. They said on Facebook that it was sent to them by activists they know well.
The Tennessee Holler later wrote: “To be clear — this is not our event today. It was sent to us by activists we know well and we’re passing along.”
Justin Jones, a local activist, said he would be joining the event but did not indicate to the Tennessean who was planning it.
During the Friday night event, a banner was put up that temporarily renamed the plaza: “Ida B. Wells Plaza.”
Tents were later pitched in the plaza, where protesters said they planned to stay until the governor came to talk to them.
Some said they planned to stay the night or until the Governor defunded the police.
As the night came, some protesters remained, reported Brinley Hineman from the Tennessean.
The placed signs in front of the Capitol.
And several tents were set up.
Tennessee State Trooperschanged shifts while the protesters camped out.
On Saturday, a March for Justice is planned at 5 p.m. at the Legislative Plaza.
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