NASHVILLE — Occupy Wall Street protesters and state officials in Tennessee squared off for a third consecutive night Saturday, even though a local judge has consistently refused to jail the protesters and said the state lacks the authority to set a curfew on the property.
The protesters, many of whom were arrested on two consecutive nights, were galvanized by the friction between state officials and the local magistrate. Some new demonstrators showed up at the state-owned plaza near the Capitol for the first time Saturday.
"My heart has been here all along, but the arrests gave me the momentum to come," said Vicki Metzgar, 61.
The Nashville arrests came in a week of police crackdowns around the country on Occupy Wall Street activists, including in Denver Saturday when pepper spray was used and seven people were arrested.
In Oakland, Calif., an Iraq war veteran was seriously injured as protesters clashed with police Tuesday night. In Atlanta, helicopters hovered overhead Wednesday as officers in riot gear arrested more than 50 protesters at a downtown park. In San Diego, police arrested a similar number who had occupied the Civic Center Plaza and Children's Park for three weeks.
Nashville magistrate Tom Nelson has said there is no legal reason to keep the demonstrators behind bars, and he has released them after each arrest. He has refused each night to sign off on arrest warrants for more than two dozen people taken into custody.
The state Department of Safety is carrying out the arrests. Commissioner Bill Gibbons said he didn't have a role in developing the curfew but assured Gov. Bill Haslam his department could enforce it.