Police chief calls Nashville Ferguson protests ‘example for nation’

Chief Steve Anderson (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson lauded Ferguson protesters Wednesday and defended a decision to let them briefly shut down Nashville’s Interstate 24 twice Tuesday night.

Ferguson protesters in Nashville
Protesters shut down Interstate 24 in Nashville chanting “SHUT IT DOWN FOR MIKE BROWN!”

“We could have moved in and made arrests, but to do that you have to do that one by one in a very careful manner,” the chief told reporters Wednesday morning. “We would have been there two to three hours.”

The chief said he “approved all decisions” concerning the protesters as they made their way around Nashville streets Tuesday.

He indicated his officers were in constant communication with the protesters, but did not know of the plans to block I-24 in both directions near the Shelby Street Bridge.

“I think they took a reasonable amount of time to make their statement, but I know people were inconvenienced,” he added. “Last night’s event went very well and I hope that all of Nashville is proud of not only the law enforcement response, but the response of the citizens involved and that we have set an example for the nation.”

His words were echoed by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean who said he was getting updates Tuesday night from Metro police, but was not involved in the decision-making.

“Police did a great job in how they responded, and I want to give a lot of credit to the clergy who really stepped up in a leadership role,” Dean told News 2. “Folks who were involved were peaceful without any incident and I am grateful for that.”

The mayor, Chief Anderson, District Attorney Glenn Funk and various other city leaders have been meeting regularly with Nashville’s African-American clergy about several issues, but they talked at length Monday prior to the decision where a grand jury declined to prosecute a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.

One of those protesters on I-24 Tuesday night was Vanderbilt Divinity student Teresa Pecinovsky.

“When we unite in solidarity and intersectionality, change can happen,” she told News 2.

Pecinovsky said there are plans for more local vigils after Monday’s grand jury decision. She and other protesters have been saying there other similar cases.

“We wanted to bring the public’s attention to the fact that life that cannot go on as normal because all these slain bodies are crying out for justice and we have to do something about it,” Pecinovsky said.

Her protest does not stop in Nashville.

The streets of Ferguson will be where she will spend Thanksgiving, her seventh trip there since the shooting of Michael Brown.

“I am going to be helping with the churches that have been set up as sanctuaries to provide care for the protesters and the front line people,” she said just hours before heading to the troubled St. Louis suburb.

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