Protesters Back On Legislative Plaza For Rally Against Law - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Protesters Back On Legislative Plaza For Rally Against Law

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by Jennifer Reyes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Protesters stayed overnight on Legislative Plaza Sunday, protesting the new law that they claim targets the homeless.

More than 100 people gathered on the plaza Monday morning with signs, sleeping bags, and cots for what organizers call a rally for "the right to exist". 

A sign posted at the protest read "sleeping is not a crime."

Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law last month that prohibits camping or loitering on state-owned property, except for designated areas. Violators can face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 or both.

No one was arrested.

Organizers said it is "social profiling" and it criminalizes homelessness.

"The worst part is that you get a criminal record for life and so that means the homeless person is going to have a hard time getting a job and they're going to stay homeless," added Jane Steinfels Hussain, with Occupy Nashville.    

"We feel like instead of upholding justice our criminal justice system is creating criminals by the laws they are passing. We don't think it's a crime to sleep, we don't think the laws that are being passed are doing any good to our friends who are struggling with day-to-day life," said protester Lindsey Krinks.

The movement was organized by homeless advocates, along with Occupy Nashville and Occupy Vanderbilt.

They said they have been writing petitions and letters to government officials urging them to stop passing these types of laws for the past few weeks.

The group has a schedule of events planned, including lunch, dinner, and a screening of a documentary called "Crossing the American Crises".

Occupy Nashville left their permanent encampment on the plaza last month after the law was passed. They had been on the plaza since October.

Email: jreyes@newschannel5.com
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