The eviction of Occupy Berkeley, California left many people wondering who exactly runs the city of Berkeley. There, city council members had no idea the eviction was planned nor could those council members reach anyone in city government for an explanation. Even representatives from the district in which Occupy Berkley established its encampment were in the dark concerning the eviction. (See Occupy Berkeley Eviction). Earlier in the year we saw an even more dramatic example of how we do not know who runs our cities.
Who is in charge of the city of Nashville? Our first thought is that the mayor of Nashville is. Why then did State Troopers, who we assume report to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, raid Occupy Nashville back in October? If the mayor and city of Nashville were behind the raid, why are they not named in the ACLU lawsuit (2)? If the county were involved, why did the county refuse to ratify the State Trooper’s decision to arrest the protesters? The county decision effectively made it impossible for State Troopers to put protesters in the county jail. After that court decision, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam ordered all charges dropped against the protesters. Later, a Federal Court would decide that the limitations placed on protesters were unconstitutional.
“Since state troopers raided the encampment in late October and made 55 arrests, the state has had to back down. Gov. Bill Haslam ordered the charges dropped when Nashville courts refused to jail the protesters, and the state isn’t fighting a federal court order that found the raids had violated the First Amendment rights of the protesters.” – WSMV TV Nashville (1)
After the eviction, a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU (2). Named defendants included Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and two other state level administrators. (2) That lawsuit does not name city or county officials.
We imagine your head is spinning as wildly as ours, but there it is: “…the state has had to back down.” (1) Why on earth would the state take actions against protesters within the city of Nashville? Isn’t the city controlled by the mayor and city council elected to represent the citizens of Nashville? Do we not live in a representative democracy?