NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee law enforcement officials have arrested two protesters at the state Capitol amid a protest calling for the removal of a bust of Confederate cavalry general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The arrests on Thursday marked the latest escalating demonstrations at the Tennessee Legislature this year.
State troopers detained Jeneisha Harris and Justin Jones, two activists who have led sit-ins and other protests at the Capitol.
Prior to the arrest, an object was thrown into an elevator House Speaker Glen Casada was in. Harris was arrested after ducking underneath a rope blocking off the public from getting close to the bust.
Casada told reporters earlier Thursday he supported adding more context or moving the bust to a museum should the Legislature decided to do so.
In response to these events, Rep. Bo Mitchell said, “I never condone the inappropriate or illegal actions of someone meaning to harm another person. But what is even more shocking is the deafening silence exhibited by Cameron Sexton and others not denouncing the illegal actions of Speaker Casada when he removed law-abiding Tennessee citizens coming to peacefully and lawfully express their First Amendment rights earlier in the week.”
Minority Leader Karen D. Camper released the following statement regarding today's events at the Capitol:
“The Constitution of the United States gives each American citizen the right to peaceably assemble. This right should be exercised freely and never infringed upon. However, to this end, these sacred and protected acts of protest should never include tactics that intend to cause harm to any individual.
“While we respect the right of citizens to protest for or against causes that we believe in, we have not and will never condone violence. Violence should never be a part of any protest and should never take place within the hallowed halls of our legislature.
“The incident that occurred on Thursday was not coordinated in any way by the Democratic Leadership of the Tennessee House of Representatives. For further comment on the incident, we refer you to the parties involved.”