After Nashville police shut down a protest near the Capitol building, a judge quickly threw out the case.
Occupy Nashville, the Tennessee capital's offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, came to a premature close early Friday morning when police stormed the protestors' camp site. Some of the protestors acquiesced to officers' demands that they leave, but others didn't, locking arms, sitting down, and refusing to move. So police moved in and forcefully broke the group up. In the end, 29 protesters were arrested.
The story might have ended there: with the demonstration—which had been happening since October 7—scattered and dozens of protesters in jail. But thanks to an eminently rational Nashville judge named Tom Nelson, that's not what happened at all.
When the arrested protesters went before the judge who was to sign their warrants, the judge sided with the protesters, ruling that the police had "no probable cause" to arrest them. He said that the city hadn't given the protesters enough notice before evicting them, adding "Fourteen hours is woefully inadequate time within which to allow the group an opportunity to comply with the newly enacted rules, regulations, curfew and permit requirements." All 29 protesters were released immediately.
As Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran injured in Occupy Oakland's clashes with police, recovers from serious brain trauma in Highland Hospital in Oakland, it's nice to know not everyone in criminal justice is against the protesters. The Occupy movement is growing, and if it's going to get even bigger it needs to be sure police and judges aren't looking to squelch it on trumped-up charges at every turn.