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VOL. 44 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 12, 2020

21 detained during peaceful protest outside state Capitol

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol has announced that troopers detained more than 20 people at the state Capitol during a peaceful protest.

According to a news release, troopers removed the protesters after issuing a warning Monday evening that anyone remaining on Capitol grounds after 11 p.m. would be arrested. The crowd declined, and instead locked legs and arms while sitting down.

Troopers say they cited 19 people and arrested two for public intoxication. The THP has not responded to questions from The Associated Press about what the individuals were cited for.

Protesters had been allowed to stay overnight outside the Capitol building since Friday without being arrested. Earlier that day, however, protesters were blocked from entering the Capitol right before the House's scheduled floor session.

State troopers initially told the crowd that the building was closed because COVID-19 — even though the public had been attending House chamber meetings in a limited capacity for the past two weeks.

GOP leadership later clarified that five protesters could enter, but the group declined, arguing that all the protesters should be able to access the public building.

By Tuesday morning, protesters returned to the state Capitol, with some allowed in who have asked to speak to House Speaker Cameron Sexton. The small group of demonstrators was later forced to leave after they yelled down from the gallery at the lawmakers. Sexton asked troopers to remove them for "lack of decorum."

George Floyd, 46, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system.

In Tennessee, demonstrations across the state have remained largely peaceful.

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