After arresting protesters for peaceably assembling on Thursday night, Governor Haslam upped the ante by arresting protesters for peaceably assembling and arresting a Scene reporter who was there covering it. On Twitter, they were also saying that a Fox 17 camera person was injured, but I can’t find confirmation of that this morning.
I’m going to just link to Mike Byrd, who’s done a nice write-up that is succinct and makes sense. I don’t think I could pull that off right now.
I want to say that, when you live in a state where they make up “laws” on the fly AND wait until the middle of the night to arrest people for violating those made-up on the fly laws so that their actions remain hidden from citizens, when they wait until the middle of the night to arrest people AND they arrest journalists so that your ability to learn about what happened is curtailed, it’s sobering.
Who even knows what’s legal in Tennessee? Apparently it’s just at the whim of the Haslam administration. Who also knows for what you’ll be arrested? Apparently, if you look like an occupier, you’ll be arrested, but if you look like you just came from the theater, you will not. And once they start arresting journalists? Ugh.
So, that’s freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. If I were a religious person in this state, I’d be looking around nervously at this point.
It’s a weird feeling. On the one hand, I have never felt more deeply troubled about living in Tennessee. If we can’t agree on basic things like how laws are made, that they should be enforced equally against everyone, and that I, as a citizen, have the right to learn about what happens in my state through the press and not through state issued press releases, then we are in pretty precarious times.
But on the other hand, when I look through Chris Wage’s pictures, and I see these amazing, ordinary people, my fellow Tennesseans, it makes me so incredibly proud.
On Wednesday, these were a handful of people I think most people in the state thought were a little corny. By now, Saturday morning, they are on the front line of a fundamental battle in this state over whether we still live under the Tennessee State Constitution–
That the printing presses shall be free to every person to examine the proceedings of the Legislature; or of any branch or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers, or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libel, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other criminal cases.
And the U.S.–
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Bill Haslam could have let the occupiers occupy until the cold weather sent them home. The fact that he can’t do that indicates something so troubling about how he and his administration see the scope of their power that it should make us all angry.