Just after Midnight Saturday morning, 26 Occupy Nashville protesters were arrested for refusing to leave Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville despite warnings from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and an imposed curfew of 10 p.m.
Demonstrators like Mike Anger told Nashville's News 2 they will continue to occupy the plaza.
“I've been arrested twice now [and I'm] going for more,” Anger said. “We're here, this is our plaza and if they're [going to] kick us off then we're [going to] be ready for it because we're here to stand up for what we believe in.”
Those arrested have caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union and met with the group Saturday afternoon to discuss possible further legal action.
“We could not exercise our right to free speech during specific said hours and the ACLU caught wind of that, realizing that was violating our constitutional rights,” Kevin Vandenbrink explained.
Supporters have even discussed occupying other areas of Nashville to possibly avoid curfew restrictions set at the state capitol.
“It has been talked about, other locations. For the most part Legislative Plaza is our current 'occupation' and there will be an ongoing 'occupation' here at the People's Plaza,” Vandenbrink said.
Across the street, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, as Saturday's matinee let out, the protesters caught the attention of those who attended the show.
“I'm proud of them. A lot of people don't agree with it, but I think as long as you peacefully protest, that's your right in America,” Kathy Carrigan told Nashville's News 2.
Like Carrigan, many walked across the street to Legislative Plaza out of curiosity and to even show their support.
“I wanted to walk over here and see, ask a couple questions to who's out here. I think it's good that people can demonstrate out here,” Mandy Jenks said.
Cara Oreta added, “There [have] been some stigmas drawn to some of the demonstrations but for the most part, it looks pretty harmless.”
Those who are a part of the Occupy Nashville movement hope it remains peaceful.
“I just don't [want to] see anyone get hurt, stand for a cause, but do it safely,” Anger said.
The group signed a thank you card and marched to the Public Square Saturday afternoon as a sign of gratitude to Judge Thomas Nelson, who refused to sign the 26 arrest warrants early Saturday morning.
- Oct. 29, 2011: Judge dismisses Occupy Nashville warrants
- Oct. 28, 2011: Arrested Occupy protesters issued citations, released
- Oct. 26, 2011: Occupy Nashville protesters stand their ground
- Oct. 18, 2011: Occupy Nashville protesters march through downtown
- Oct. 6, 2011:'Occupy Nashville' protest held at Legislative Plaza