Metro Police 'Very Tolerant' Of Protesters Who Blocked Rush-Hour Traffic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The activist group known as the Poor People's Campaign defended its actions after members snarled Nashville traffic by blocking roads in the middle of rush hour, yesterday.

Several group members spilled out onto James Robertson Pkwy. on Monday, blocking traffic on the Victory Memorial Bridge.  Leaders with the Poor People's Campaign -- part of a nationwide protest of poverty and racism -- called the act an example of civil disobedience.

"How many people would have heard us yesterday if we had stayed on the sidewalk?" asked Beth Foster, with the Poor People's Campaign.

The group says more protests are planned in the weeks to come, though leaders said the protests would likely not involve blocking traffic.  Rallies are scheduled on Mondays for the next several weeks at 2 p.m. near the State Capitol.

The group says they don't plan on telling Metro Police what specific plans they have for each week's protest.

"We haven't communicated with police at all about our plans," Foster said. 

Metro Police said Tuesday that -- as in the past -- they're "very tolerant" of the right to protest -- to a point.

It's a point that presumably was not reached yesterday; police didn't arrest anyone.  Police say there needs to be a balance between first amendment rights and public safety.

Leaders with the Poor People's Campaign say drivers who were caught in Monday's traffic jam should not be angry with the protestors who were blocking the roads.

"If they're angry it took them a little longer to get home from work yesterday afternoon, maybe that anger should be directed at a system that leaves a mother with children she can't feed," Foster said.  "Maybe that anger should be directed at a system that kidnaps fathers and mothers from their children because of what side of the border they were born on."

Several other protests that are part of the Poor People's Campaign took place in several other cities across the country on Monday, and are slated to continue over the next 40 days.

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