Commissioner says Occupy protesters costly to TN - WSMV Channel 4

Commissioner says Occupy protesters costly to TN

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The 'Occupy' protesters in Middle Tennessee were on the move Friday. In Murfreesboro, the message was directed at the banks. They say the bailout has led to corporate greed.

And about 70 protesters marched by Regions, Bank of America and SunTrust branches.

Demonstrators in Nashville marched to NES, upset over reports the company's CEO spent money on pricey hotels and meals.

From cleaning the limestone at Legislative Plaza, to paying the electric bill, the Occupy Nashville protests are costing the state thousands of dollars.

And we've learned taxpayers may be picking up part of the bill.

Occupy Nashville protesters say they are trying to be good stewards of the plaza, and the state is misplacing the blame.

"In order to be good stewards of the country, you have to be good stewards of the movement and you have to be good stewards of an area," Occupy Nashville protester Phillip Schlicher said.

State leaders say the protests are costing taxpayers money.

"You know I would say thousands, at this point. It's very, very expensive, you know, to pressurize and use solutions that don't totally damage the surface," Tennessee General Services Commissioner Steven Cates said.

Also, the protesters have hooked up to state power outlets that have raised concern.

"With power, there's a cost associated with it. And I think there's also a safety issue associated with running long cords into plugs that don't have the right rating," Cates said.

Protesters say they've done a lot to improve sanitary conditions, from getting port-a-potties to designating a cleaning crew.

They say the issues were caused by the homeless, and the cracks in the plaza stone were already there.

As for the electricity, they say they have been searching for other options.

"But in the meantime, yeah we have been using it. And as far as I'm told, this comes out of taxpayer money. And yeah, we are taxpayers," Schlicher said.

Thursday, a group of "Occupy" demonstrators hand-delivered a letter to the governor's office that explained their reasons for protesting. And on Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam responded.

Haslam wrote that his administration supports the group's first-amendment rights to demonstrate at Legislative Plaza.

He added that his administration's main concern is ensuring that the plaza is safe.

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