NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Seven pro-union activists were dragged out of the Tennessee State Capitol and arrested Tuesday afternoon after their protest disrupted a Senate committee hearing.
Troopers at the Tennessee Capitol forcibly removed the individuals, who were among of group of protesters who stood up during the Senate Commerce Committee hearing and began chants about what they called “union busting” by the state legislature.
Most demonstrators left the hearing room after about 30 minutes, but a small group sat on the floor and tried to lock arms to keep from being removed.
Troopers pulled the holdouts out of the room one by one, while lawmakers, lobbyists and other observers looked on.
The activists, members of the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees, were at the capitol to see the Commerce Committee vote on a bill that would make changes to political contributions from labor unions.
They became irate and outspoken when it became apparent the bill wasn't going to be heard.
The individuals removed from the room, four males and three females, were taken to the Metro jail where they were booked overnight on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
They have been identified as 30-year-old James Sledge, 25-year-old Jeffrey Lichtenstein, 22-year-old Paul Garner, 25-year-old Bennett Foster, 19-year-old Leah Shoaf, 25-year-old Ashley Henderson and 26-year-old Sally Joyner.
Jared Story is the husband of one of the protestors who was arrested.
He told Nashville's News 2, “Many of us who participated in today's rally, and disruption in the committee meeting, believe that it's not just an attack on workers, that this is a coordinated attack on women, on immigrants, LGBT folks, on Muslims, on our environmental protections, and we feel like its the strategy of the wealthy to consolidate their power and wealth.”
All seven protestors are from either Chattanooga or Memphis and many are college students on spring break.
Family and friends of the protestors who were present at the Criminal Justice Center downtown Tuesday night said they raised enough money to bail them out of jail.
They were processed and released shortly after 12 Midnight.
In a statement, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said, “The right of all citizens to protest and assemble peacefully is sacred in the State of Tennessee. However, this General Assembly will not be intimidated by nomadic bands of professional agitators on spring break bent on disruption. We talk through our differences here. Tennessee is not Wisconsin.”
- March 15, 2011: Union members rally in support of teachers
- March 10, 2011: Wilson Co. teachers, community supporters rally in Lebanon
- March 10, 2011: Governor's tenure proposal passes Senate
- March 5, 2011: Thousands attend opposing rallies on Capitol Hill
- March 4, 2011: Competing rallies on Capitol Hill Saturday
- Feb. 23, 2011: Teachers show opposition to bills on Capitol Hill
- Feb. 21, 2011: Another bill draws opposition from teachers' union
- Feb. 16, 2011: Bill targets teacher collective bargaining rights