Gov. Bill Haslam is defending his decision to impose a curfew on Legislative Plaza and arrest protesters with Occupy Nashville. He said it was the only way to keep people safe.
Haslam says conditions on the plaza and multiple complaints led to his decision last week to put a curfew on Legislative Plaza.
"We had state workers saying we're cleaning up human waste every morning and situations where even the group itself was saying would you help on this," Gov. Bill Haslam said.
And while not discussing specifics about the arrests because of the legal case, he defended the arrests of 55 people over two nights, including that of Nashville Scene reporter Jonathan Meador.
"That particular individual was not wearing media credentials and when all the other media moved to the side, this person moved to the middle," Haslam said.
He says while the state has agreed not to enforce the curfew, he still has safety concerns.
Haslam says the lack of public restrooms has led to human waste on the plaza, Occupy Nashville protesters have been victims of crime and several people in the War Memorial Building witnessed a sex act.
"It's not about us helping or hurting the movement. It's about we have a responsibility. We're not out having to prove a legal point. This isn't fun for us or our highway patrol officers. They have other things to be doing. We have a responsibility for safety," Haslam said.
The governor's hope is to come to an agreement with the protesters who have indicated they want to stay indefinitely, 24-hours a day.
"If we can come up with rules that help make that happen, then that's what we're for. Our goal is not to remove people from the plaza. It hasn't been and it never will be. Our goal to provide a safe environment," Haslam said.
Both sides are due back in court on Nov. 21, and the attorney general's office says the state is working with protesters to come to some kind of resolution.
Haslam said because of that pending case, there's much he cannot comment about.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:37 PM EDT2014-07-23 17:37:11 GMT
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