NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Historic Courthouse and several businesses on Broadway were damaged after protests in Nashville on Saturday evening. 

Mayor John Cooper signed an executive order, which declared a state of civil emergency, and setup a curfew for 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. in Nashville. Nashville joined 25 other cities that implemented a curfew on Saturday night. 

Around 10:45 p.m., police said the Downtown area was "essentially cleared," but Metro officers and Tennessee Highway Patrol was still in the area. Police once again said anyone on the streets is subject to an arrest. 

Metro Police said none of their personnel were injured during the protests. However, at least six vehicles were "significantly damaged, including this car that was swarmed while an officer was behind the wheel."

"There were repeated acts of vandalism, which our officers met with great restraint and professionalism," Cooper said. 

Cooper thanked the police for their efforts. To read the full Executive Order #9, click here

"This is a heart-breaking night for our city," Cooper said. "Nashville has been through a lot over the last three months. Tonight's vandalism does not define Nashville." 

To see his full statement, click here

Several Broadway businesses including Big Time Boot were vandalized and fires were set inside some. Anyone with any information is asked to call 615-74-CRIME.

After being asked by the mayor, Gov. Bill Lee authorized "the National Guard to mobilize in response to protests that have now taken a violent, unlawful turn in Nashville."

"The threat to both peace and property is unacceptable and we will work with local law enforcement and community leaders to restore safety and order. This is not a reflection of our state or the fundamental American right to peaceful protest," Lee tweeted.

The National Guard arrived on Broadway around 11:30 p.m. 

Earlier in the evening, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp urged all downtown businesses to close at this time.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted about the protests in Nashville. 

A fire has started inside the Metro Nashville Courthouse as protests continue in downtown Nashville on Saturday evening.

"60 years ago, 3,000 nonviolent protesters marched to that courthouse in a milestone moment for integration. Yet that courthouse was defaced and set on fire," Cooper said. 

Metro Police Department once deployed gas at the Historic Courthouse around 8:30 p.m. to protect the building after a fire was set by protesters. Firefighters were escorted to building by officers.

Edward Carmack statue was knocked over at the State Capitol. Tennessee Highway Patrol is at the State Capitol, according to tweets from State Rep. Jason Zachary. 

On Saturday evening, demonstrators marched through downtown Nashville to a Metro Police Department Central Precinct. To see the demonstration in front of police department, click here

News 4 has located buildings damaged on Third Avenue and on Broadway. There is damage to the courthouse in Nashville and protesters were seen throwing police bicycles. 

WeGo bus service temporarily "has shut down the Central bus station and suspended all bus operations"on Saturday night "to protect the safety of riders and drivers" as protests continue in downtown Nashville. 

"We apologize for the inconvenience and understand the hardship this may place on our awaiting passengers, but the safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority," WeGo said in a statement on Saturday. 

Service is expected to resume on Sunday morning.  

Protesters continued demonstrating in front of Metro Police Department and the Metro Nashville Courthouse after the "I Will Breathe" rally and march were held on Saturday afternoon.

Mayor John Cooper was in attendance at Saturday's rally and said it was peaceful in nature.

"We cannot let today’s message of reform descend into further violence. If you mean our city harm, go home," Cooper tweeted on Saturday night.

The rally started Saturday at 3 p.m. at Legislative Plaza to protest police brutality. To watch the rally, click here.

Demonstrators chanted “No Justice, No Peace" during the  "I Will Breathe" rally. To see pictures, click here.

The demonstrators were remembering people and saying the names of those they say were killed by brutality including George Floyd.

Floyd died Monday in the custody of Minneapolis police. Video surfaced showing Floyd on the ground with a police officer kneeling on his neck. Floyd can be heard saying "I can't breathe" repeatedly. 

The demonstrators also chanted for Trayvon Martin and people in Nashville such as Jacques Clemons, who was shot by police after a traffic stop in Nashville in February 2017.

"Yeah, we’re here in front of the capital where it was completely packed earlier today about 30 minutes ago and more just so many people coming out for a very peaceful rally. A very passionate rally people wanting to demand just as not only for George Floyd before so many African-Americans who say that they feel like their lives don’t matter," Nashville resident Jimmy Wilson, who attended Saturday's rally, said.

The president of the local NAACP and Nation of Islam along with several local pastors all challenged the crowd to get involved in local politics, vote, and push minority agendas.

"This is injustice that has been going on for way too long, in our nation for way too long," Rev. Lalita Smith said. "It’s time for change, it’s time for justice, it’s time for recompense to be brought forth. I’m here to fight for those things."

The crowd grew restless especially towards State Rep. Mike Stewart. The crowd wanted to know what action he’d was planning to take, and he said he would spend more time listening.

Almost all the speakers spoke to change that needs to come within our police department.

"At the end of the day, what I want to see in the future is the quality," demonstrator Edward Lynch said. "I want that flag to stand for me too."

"I don’t wanna have to teach my kid how to survive just because he’s black," demonstrator Dominique Brown said. "It’s not right. He does not deserve to be shot down like deer in the woods."

News 4 has learned that all Tennessee state troopers cannot leave their shift, until they are otherwise told. All off duty troopers were called in on Saturday. Troopers from Chattanooga and Cookeville are also in Nashville on Saturday.

Besides Cooper, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore attended the rally. Earlier in the day, Cooper also urged all of his colleagues in the Metro Council to join him at the rally. 

Mayor Cooper wrote in a statement:

"This is an especially critical time for all of us, as Metro's leaders, to show up and listen to Black voices from across Davidson County as they speak out against the senseless killing of George Floyd and the deep-seated issues of racial injustice in our country."

Local leaders told demonstrators change will only come if more people get involved and meet regular to change the agenda in local government and vote. At least one speaker asked Cooper to de-fund the police department. 

Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck, has since been charged with third degree murder. The other three officers involved have since been fired from the police force. 

Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck charged with 3rd-degree murder

Floyd's death has sparked several protests, both violent and not violent, throughout the country.

Mayor Cooper also encouraged everyone at the rally to practice safe social distancing and wear face masks.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Peaceful protest planned for Saturday afternoon in Nashville
Minneapolis police release 911 call that led to encounter with George Floyd
Law enforcement, Gov. Bill Lee react to death of George Floyd

WSMV.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

>> Click/tap here to download our free mobile app. <<


Copyright 2020 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Locations

WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @EthanIllers_TV!

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.