Category Archives: Nashville protest

Occupy Nashville Confronts Rumsfeld At Fundraiser

I don’t think Donald Rumsfeld will be too eager to visit Nashville any time soon, after some Occupy Nashville protesters gained access to a private Heritage Foundation fundraiser here last night and hurled charges of “torturer” and “war criminal” at him.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Security had to escort four Occupy Nashville protesters out of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s fundraiser at the Downtown Hilton on Thursday night.

The four protesters were given tickets and snuck into the $125 per plate fundraiser.

Video sent to us by an attendee, Gretch Steubbel, showed Rumsfeld speaking. Moments after he got on stage, a woman stood up and called him a war criminal. In the photos, she was escorted out of the ballroom at the downtown Hilton.

Three other people from Occupy Nashville got up to speak. After they were kicked out, they uploaded a video to YouTube.

“When I came our time, I got up, I pointed at him, and I said ‘Donald Rumsfeld, you are a war criminal, and you lied to the world’,” the woman said.

They were given tickets to the event by a Vietnam War veteran, which is just so telling. Does the Heritage Foundation assume all veterans support the war machine? Who knows. Video here:

Back in September I saw some amazing video of Dick Cheney’s “welcome” in Vancouver, B.C. Washington and the elites need to remember, we haven’t forgotten the utter lack of accountability over the Iraq War, too. While the conversation has turned to economic inequality and wage stagnation and the need for the wealthy 1% to pay their fair share, we’re still waiting for some accountability on this disaster, too. And this is something that lands squarely in the Democrats’ lap, because when they took power in 2006, they did absolutely nothing in this regard.

A lot of people raked in tons of money off the blood and torture that is our Iraq military misadventure. That just turns my stomach. Hey, Heritage Foundation: if this is the “heritage” you’re so proud of — war profiteering, torture, lies and fearmongering that forced the nation into a needless war so ExxonMobil can grab Iraq’s oil — then I have nothing but contempt for you.

We’re still pissed. I’m still pissed. We want some accountability. Not just on the financial meltdown, but on the Bush Administration’s biggest mistake. How come no one is in jail? How come Rumsfeld and Cheney can walk around raking in money off of book deals and make speeches at conservative fundraisers, as if they didn’t have blood on their hands?

Nothing illustrates the power of the plutcorats more than this.


The comments on the video’s YouTube page are a window into the dark soul of the Freeperati. Some examples:

Too bad security didn’t shoot them in the head.
jasonc32amg 38 minutes ago

Can’t imagine why anyone would call conservatives violent! And here’s this one:

Well, here’s a list of their top supporters. Yep, I’d say communists and socialists.

Communist Party USA
The American Nazi Party
Revolutionary Communist Party
Black Panthers
Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan
qpwillie 35 minutes ago 2

Hmmm, wanna provide any evidence of that, Sherlock? I guess the answer is no, since there was no link to accompany these allegations. Of course, the Occupy movement is a diverse, unorganized, non-authoritarian, grassroots movement. Unlike the Tea Party, which wouldn’t exist without money from various foundations associated with Koch Industries, and constant promotion from Fox News, Occupy represents a diverse set of interests coalesced around the main idea that the majority will no longer be ignored by those who hold all of the power and influence in our country (and in our world). And speaking of the Tea Party, whatever happened to them? Hmm.

Here’s my favorite:

You guys seem a bit extreme. Rumsfeld a War Criminal?

Really? Do you remember 9/11?

How about 3K of our own people that died that day? & thousands more that were injured/currently w/ serious health problems.

Maybe you folks would get alittle more accomplished & people would take you seriously, if you didn’t act like little immature kids outside of a HOTEL chanting like a crazy cult–you realize this was late for some people? My family HAD TO listen to your crazy ass mob chants from outside.

utoobonutoob 1 hour ago

Poor, poor baby. Amazing to me that there are still people out there who believe Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11. Must be a Fox News watcher. As they say, the more you watch, the less you know.


Filed under Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War, Nashville protest

ACLU 1, State Of TN 0

Federal judge issues temporary restraining order halting ALL arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters.

Love this part:

The state did not object to the restraining order and agreed to work out its differences with protesters.

Yes, I think Gov. Haslam realizes he stepped in a big ol’ pile of poo with his cobbled-together curfew idea. State Police arresting a member of the media didn’t help.


Filed under Nashville protest

Gov. Haslam: The World Is Watching

Yes, we hear that statement a lot during protests. But in Nashville’s case, it happens to be true.

You see, a delegation of educators from the People’s Republic of China happens to be in town right now, visiting our schools and taking part in cultural exchange. Some of them were at the Nashville Predators game last night; I saw them on the Megatron, waving little red Chinese flags.

It is conceivable that these people are aware of our protest; it’s quite possible they walked the handful of blocks from Bridgestone Arena to Legislative Plaza and saw the action for themselves last night. Perhaps some other members of the delegation were at “Wicked,” which would have provided them a ringside seat to witness our demonstration of Constitutionally protected free speech, our right of assembly, our display of freedom of the press.

It is shameful to me that any citizens of communist China could witness state police hauling off protestors from the people’s plaza. Or seen a journalist handcuffed in the act of reporting on these arrests, then later accused of intoxication in what is clearly a ham-fisted attempt to justify yet another crushing of a Constitutionally-protected right.

So far we’ve got the governor interfering with the people’s right to vote, their right to peaceably assemble, the rights of a free press … what’s next, Governor?

We never stop boasting about our hard-fought freedoms in America, and rightfully so. China’s human rights record is atrocious, and recent protests there have prompted a crack down on social media by the Communist Party. We all remember Tiananmen Square.

It would be nice if the actions of Tennessee’s governor could provide a stark contrast to the Chinese authorities’ heavy hand, not a muddied reflection of it.

Gov. Haslam, show our Chinese visitors what democracy really looks like. As the protestors’ sign says, democracy is messy. Go with it, that’s the way it’s supposed to be:

This Is What Democracy Looks Like


Filed under Bill Haslam, Nashville protest

A Lovely Day For An Occupation


As of 5:15 pm there were lots of people, marching and carrying signs and chanting in unison, headed for Legislative Plaza. Looks like there will be a lot of people occupying Legislative Plaza tonight.


It’s a gorgeous, crisp fall day in Nashville today. I stopped by Legislative Plaza this afternoon and snapped a few quick shots of the Occupy Nashville protest. They were in the middle of demonstrating the “human microphone” made famous by Occupy Wall Street. Throngs of passers-by were headed across the street to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s run of the musical “Wicked,” which I believe is a wonderfully ironic juxtaposition of messages. It’s been a few years since I saw the show but I seem to recall heroine Elphaba being a rabble-rouser for the oppressed animals of Oz.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

A Lovely Day For A Protest

Today’s Tennessean has a message from Ken Locke, pastor of the Downtown Presbyterian Church, a place active in social justice and a congregation Mr. Beale and I have visited many times. Locke writes:

While many have been quick to jump in and either support or condemn the movement, I have noticed that voices from the church have been rather quiet. My belief is that this is because it is embarrassing, especially for my fellow clergy. Frankly, they are making us look bad. With little organization and no training, they are doing something we Christians are clearly not doing very well.


As a Christian in the Reformed Tradition, I believe very strongly that God is able to use non-Christians to spread God’s message of caring for the oppressed. By the power of God’s Holy Spirit, God is able to use anyone God pleases to spread the message of liberation.

My firm conviction is that these Occupy movements, touched by the Holy Spirit, are powerfully drawing the world’s attention to the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. On behalf of the powerless, they are speaking truth to power: It is obscene that only a small number of people control such vast sums of wealth. It is wrong that our legal and economic system is making it possible for a small number to continue getting richer while more and more are finding themselves unemployed, uninsured and foreclosed on. It is indefensible that for lack of relatively small funds, the price of a pair of shoes, children have to sleep in the family car and then get up and go to school the next day.

In other words, they are spreading the message that we, the church, should be spreading.


So I say to the Occupiers, you have my blessings and my prayers. If I can offer you support please let me know. Thank you for shouting out the message much louder than I have ever been able to. And please forgive me, forgive us all, for letting things get so out of hand that you have had to take up the message yourselves. You are unlikely prophets, yet nevertheless, may the Lord bless your ministry and show me a way to be a part of it.

Well said, Pastor Locke.


Filed under Nashville protest

The Embarrassment Of Gov. Haslam

Gov. Haslam has truly shown his ignorance with the ridiculous “curfew” he imposed on Legislative Plaza to quash Occupy Nashville. When even the former spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party says your actions are unconstitutional, you know you’ve stepped in, eh Governor?

Last night Occupy Nashville protestors were arrested again, and early this morning they were released … again. Metro Night Court Judge Tom Nelson told the state troopers who made the arrests that

… the curfew being enforced at the Capitol had no constitutional grounds whatsoever.

“I have reviewed the regulations of the state of Tennessee, and I can find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza,” Judge Nelson told a grimacing trooper, before ordering the immediate release of everyone arrested.

Hear that, Governor? You can’t arbitrarily impose a rule, pretend it’s a law, have state police enforce it, and then expect it to hold up in court. In fact, I wonder if there won’t be a wrongful arrest action or two as a result of Haslam’s embarrassing lack of knowledge about the limits of his power.

Sorry, but this ain’t Italy and you’re not Il Duce.


Filed under Bill Haslam, Nashville protest

Freedom Isn’t Free It’s $65 A Day

… and proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

That is the new rule for exercising your Constitutionally-protected right of free speech at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. The Haslam Administration has unabashedly changed the rules at the 11th hour in an effort to crush the Occupy Nashville protest. And yes, it’s an astonishingly blatant government overreach from our so-called “small government” Republican governor. Wake up and smell the hypocrisy:

The state curfew bans anybody from being on the plaza from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Protests would be allowed by permit between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those permits would cost $65 a day and groups would also be required to buy $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

An ACLU spokesperson said they are monitoring the situation and are drafting a lawsuit. Changing the rules in the middle of a protest to crush that protest “raises constitutional questions,” they say. Yes, I think so.

So at around 3 a.m. this morning the protestors were arrested. This morning a judge ruled there was no probable cause for the arrests and ordered everyone released.

I just wonder where all of those Teanuts so in love with our Constitution are? This isn’t the first time our baby-faced Republican governor has crushed a civil right. Back in June he signed a law making it a crime to display or transmit “distressing images” online. He’s blocked our access to the courts with his “tort reform.” We have our new Tennessee Voter ID law, which stands ready to disenfranchise thousands of people who don’t meet the state’s arbitrary Voter ID requirement (gun permit yes! Student ID, no!) Once again, these “small government” Republicans show themselves to be hypocrites, perfectly happy to let the government’s long arm reach in and silence a protest they don’t agree with, but calling it gross overreach when we try to protect our air and water.

These chickens will be coming home to roost for years to come. Tennessee will be paying for this in some unexpected ways, methinks.

And I want to raise some awareness about the people participating in Occupy Nashville. It’s not all DFH’s and college kids. Let’s give some mad props to 71-year-old Rip Patton:

“If you don’t hear from me, call the city jail,” 71-year-old Rip Patton told his friends. A veteran of the civil rights struggle, Patton was one of the students who braved arrest and worse to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and to bring voting rights to blacks in the Deep South as one of the Freedom Riders.

More on Rip Patton here. And thank you to The Tennessean for taking the time to interview this social justice veteran. It’s a great interview.


Occupy Nashville is baaaaaack….


You can’t possibly get more conservative than Bill Hobbs: he was, after all, once the spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party. And yet, I’m getting the warm fuzzies reading his Twitter stream.

When even Bill Hobbs agrees the Haslam Administration has overreached and is stifling dissent, you know you’re talking about an issue that is way beyond partisanship.


Filed under Bill Haslam, free speech, Nashville protest

>Hey Teabaggers: At Least Our Signs Are Spelled Right

>Tweeted two hours ago from Chuck Todd:

And the above was taken about 30 minutes ago at the corner of West End and Murphy Road here in Nashville.

There were about 20 people at the lunchtime rally to support healthcare reform. About what I’ve seen at past events. Lots of horn-honkers and thumbs-up to show support, plus the obligatory asshole shouting “get a job.” There’s always one.


Filed under Nashville protest

>It’s Rubber Meets The Road Time

>Hey you liberals whining about how no one has “hit the streets” for healthcare reform? Yeah, you know who you are.

Well I’d better see you at the corner of West End and Murphy Road from Noon to 1 pm on Friday. Bring a sign, or don’t… bring your lunch, or don’t … bring a friend, or just yourself … just be there or shut up already.

Just sayin’.

For more information enter your zip in the “find and event” box (yes I know the home page says Feb. 17, but Nashville’s event was scheduled for the 19th, I don’t know why…)

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Filed under healthcare, Nashville protest

>Visit To Lamar’s Office

>Nice little lunchtime demonstration in front of Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office today. I counted about 25 people there, four of them (not surprisingly) from my church. I think the progressive faith community gets a bum rap by a lot of folks on the left because when they show up at events like this they aren’t carrying crosses and wearing clerical robes.

Reaction at this busy intersection was mostly positive. There were quite a few horn honks and thumbs up, a couple of thumbs down, but not as many as I had expected. One person, predictably, shouted “get a job!” There’s always one asshole who has to remind us of the country’s unemployment rate. I’m not being sarcastic here, either: I have yet to attend a rally or visibility event where there wasn’t one person shouting “get a job!” Probably the same guy, too.

The check was delivered to Sen. Alexander’s office after the demonstration was over.

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Filed under healthcare, Nashville protest, Sen. Lamar Alexander

The Loneliest Protester

I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for Tom Kovach, the only one to show up at an anti-healthcare reform protest at West End Middle School today:

Tom Kovach, state director of America’s Independent Party, said he’d hoped to see at least 50 people at the protest in a parking lot in front of West End Middle School near downtown.

Instead, the only company he had was a hand full of reporters and a few passing joggers.

This protest was a giant fail from the get-go. Rep. Jim Cooper was scheduled to welcome West End Middle School students to their first day of school. Somehow Kovach got the idea that this was a town hall meeting.

Think about it: a town hall meeting? At a public school on the first day of school? During school hours? Who would plan that?

Regardless, Kovach scheduled a protest, which the media dutifully reported. Cooper pulled out, not wanting to disrupt the first day of school. Kovach was undeterred, and appeared for his lonely man protest anyway.

Well, not quite so lonely. Remember:

Instead, the only company he had was a hand full of reporters and a few passing joggers.

Ah, yes, our glorious media. Of course! You can always count on them to sniff out a hot story, which usually happens to be where a conservative activist is calling for the whaaaambulance.

It took the Tennessee Democratic Party to point out Kovach’s checkered past:

Kovach was fired from his job at Whites Creek High School in 2007 for abusing a student. He was subsequently arrested by Metro police for the same incident after charges were filed.

Meanwhile, the No Chaser blog reminds us that Cooper opened a can of whupass on Kovach in the 2006 election, beating him 122,919 to 49,702. Looks like Kovach is the epitome of the sore loser–something else our media failed to mention. They apparently still haven’t discovered the Google.

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Filed under healthcare, Nashville protest