Tenn. troopers infiltrated Occupy protests

Nov. 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM
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NASHVILLE, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Tennessee state troopers went undercover to infiltrate Occupy Nashville protests before arrests last month, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers dressed in street clothes mixed with the protesters in response to reports of illegal and lewd behavior, documents reviewed by the Tennessean show. The newspaper said it obtained the documents under a public records request from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

In an e-mail, David Purkey, assistant commissioner of the department, instructed two officers to wear "blend-in clothing" for the operation.

Troopers also regularly drove unmarked vehicles around a public square near the Legislative Plaza office building, where protests have taken place daily since early October.

Occupy Nashville spokeswoman Dorsey Malina said protesters knew undercover officers were among the protesters because they did a poor job blending in.

In an Oct. 25 e-mail, a legislative aide to the deputy state comptroller, Jason Mumpower, reported an "unbearable" smell of urine and feces as well as marijuana use.

The state changed its policy days later and imposed a curfew for the War Memorial Plaza, and state troopers subsequently arrested 50 protesters on trespassing charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger has since granted a temporary restraining order preventing further arrests, and state officials have pledged to work out differences with protesters.

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