State Sen. Jim Tracy said Monday that the normal paths for state legislators into and out of Legislative Plaza don't really take them past the "Occupy Nashville" protestors who have camped out on the plaza since October.
State Rep. Pat Marsh said he's had no contact with the protestors but that their camp is "a mess, and it looks terrible."
"Early on, I walked through there," said Tracy, saying he asked some of the protestors about their specific views and demands and got vague responses.
Just as in the case of Tea Party protests two years ago, there's no guarantee that any particular organization or website represents the views of any specific protestor. But the website at OccupyNashville.org states its goals as being "1) End Corporate Personhood 2) Remove Money & Financial Influence From Politics 3) Support & Solidarity With Occupy Wall Street."
Tracy said there have been concerns expressed by some legislative staffers about public urination and use of electric power without permission.
According to The Associated Press, state officials put off requests for portable toilets at the site prior to Gov. Bill Haslam citing unsanitary conditions as one of the reasons for a state curfew.
State officials said they weren't sure the plaza could support the heavy portable toilets. Toilets were eventually placed on the sidewalk below the plaza, following the arrests of protestors in late October. (Charges against the protestors were eventually dropped.) Protestors told The Associated Press last week that those who were behaving in an unacceptable manner have been weeded out and asked to leave.
"They've got tents set up," said Tracy, "but we don't see many of them." He estimated that about 10 tents were present on the site.
"They've got to be pretty miserable in this kind of weather," said Tracy.
"They have a right to protest," said Marsh, "and as long as they leave everybody alone I've got no problem with it."