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TN State put off portable toilet request for Occupy Nashville

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-11 10:01 AM
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TN State put off portable toilet request for Occupy Nashville
State put off portable toilet request for Occupy Nashville

source photo caption: Occupy Nashville protester Matthew Hamill plays a drum as others play songs. Email records indicate that officials received requests for portable toilets in the days preceding the protesters arrests. / John Partipilo / The Tennessean

Top state officials put off requests for portable toilets at War Memorial Plaza several days before Gov. Bill Haslams administration cited unsanitary conditions as a reason for implementing a curfew that prompted dozens of arrests.

Email records reviewed by The Tennessean indicate that both state and Metro officials received requests for portable toilets in the days preceding the arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters. The toilets were never installed until after the controversial arrests.

The Nashville edition of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which opposes corporate greed and corporate influence on the political process, began in early October. By the end of the month, state employees who work around the plaza were regularly complaining about unsanitary conditions, including feces and urine on the plaza grounds, according to the records.

An official with Mayor Karl Deans office contacted the state on Oct. 24 about a request for portable toilets, the records show. But General Services spokeswoman Lola Potter said Tuesday the state was still weighing the idea when Haslams administration instead instituted the curfew.

The curfew led to the arrests of 55 protesters, though last week the charges were dropped and the arrest records were expunged. A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order earlier this month and the Occupy Nashville protesters remain encamped on the plaza.

I think it was an effort to dehumanize us so they could write their own script, but thankfully everything theyve done so far has backfired, Occupy Nashville member Dorsey Malina said.

Malina said she believed the unsanitary conditions and alleged lewd behavior were primarily the actions of a faction of homeless people who latched on to the encampment.

Weve been cast as vagrants, as free loaders, Malina said. Not that the homeless people dont have a right to a voice, just like anybody else, but we disavow that what has been blamed on us is from Occupy Nashville.

An Oct. 25 memo from General Services official David Carpenter detailed how conditions on the plaza had deteriorated. Concerns included constant trash removal, vandalism, crimes involving homeless people, dogs running in packs and a reported sex act observed by government employees.

Our cleaning staff are having to remove and scrub with Pinesol and bleach each morning due to the urine and fecal matter in all the doorways and stairwells, Carpenter wrote.

Records indicate that the state was pondering portable toilets at the plaza the day before Carpenters memo. Occupy Nashville organizers have accused the state of allowing the conditions around the plaza to deteroriate prior to instituting the curfew.

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