A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order that bars the state from enforcing a policy that provided for a curfew for protests held at Legislative Plaza which resulted in the arrest of dozens of individuals involved in Occupy Nashville.
The decision [pdf] by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger is seen as a victory for Occupy Nashville and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, who filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the enforcement of the "Legislative Plaza, War Memorial Courtyard and Capitol Grounds Use Policy," issued by the Tennessee Department of General Services on October 27, 2011.
The policy, which established a curfew and permit requirements, was created after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam approved a crackdown on demonstrators in the Nashville occupy movement which began Oct. 9, reports the Tennessean.
The ACLU argued in federal court that the curfew and subsequent arrests violated the protesters rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for Middle Tennessee, [pdf] alleges "the state illegally revised the rules controlling Legislative Plaza, arresting protesters without probable cause and due process over the last several nights as a means to chill their free speech.:
Hedy Weinberg, executive director at the ACLU of Tennessee told CNN, "Political expression deserves the highest level of protection and it was unacceptable for the state to suddenly shut down protesters' speech and forcibly oust them from Legislative Plaza that has long been used as a place for peaceful expression."
The temporary restraining order, which was not opposed by the state, halts enforcement of the policy for 21 days. A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for November 21.
Livestream video of the protest can be seen at the #OccupyNashville website.