Tennessee police use tear gas to disperse crowd at Nashville rally, arrest 9-year-old, police say
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Nashville Police Department used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters on Saturday to disperse a crowd of thousands who gathered to demand the resignation of Republican Gov.
The Tennessee Bureau, which has been criticized by civil rights groups and the state’s Democratic mayor, said it used the pepper spray because of the violent nature of the protesters, and because of what it described as the “threat to public safety.”
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry issued a statement Saturday morning saying, “The protesters who showed up to express their concerns were peaceful, and the Tennessee Bureau is committed to the safety and security of all people.”
The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the use of tear gas.
In a video from a nearby news conference, an agent with the Tennessee Department of Health and Human Services said there were more than 700 people in the crowd of more than 100,000 people at a Nashville mall, which was shut down for the day, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported that one person was arrested.
Several news outlets reported that some protesters had tear gas, pepper spray and other weapons.
Several demonstrators held signs with the words “Free the kids,” and “Stop the rape.”
A video showed a man wearing a white shirt holding a sign that said, “Stop killing our kids.”
“It’s so dangerous to have to do this every day.
You have to have some kind of restraint,” the man said, according a report on YouTube.”
I have children.
This is their country, they can be everywhere they want,” the woman, who identified herself as a protester, said, adding that the police were using tear gas against her.
The woman said that police told her that she was breaking the law, but that the protesters had not broken any laws.
The protesters had been gathering for a rally scheduled for 4 p.m.
(6 p.mi.) in front of the state Capitol.
Authorities told The Associated Press that the event was being shut down because of “security concerns.”
The protesters began assembling at the mall around 5:45 p.s.m., the AP reported.
About 200 people were expected to gather, and some of the crowd moved quickly.
About 100 people started gathering at a nearby intersection, and others dispersed.
Police ordered protesters to leave the mall, and at one point a woman who was holding a placard with a photo of Haslam on it ran away, according the AP.
Police fired tear gas at her.
A police officer, wearing a riot shield, stood next to the woman in the intersection with her arms up in the air, according To The News.
He yelled at the woman to drop the placard.
“The people who were marching are peaceful, you’re being disrespectful, you have no right to be here,” the officer said.
“Get the fuck out.”
The woman ran away from the police, and she was arrested, the AP said.
A police officer also was detained by protesters, according an AP video of the incident.
Protesters have been protesting the resignation and election of Hasam, who was appointed to a second term by Haslam in August.
He resigned in October after the governor was indicted on charges that included wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The protests have been peaceful, according local media reports.
The Tennessee State Police said Saturday that there were no reports of any injuries or property damage during the incident at the Tennessee Mall.