The acts of vandalism that broke out last month in downtown Nashville are still sowing division, this time with emotional members of the Metro Council. They debated just after midnight Wednesday over whether — or how to — condemn the property damage.
Several members objected to a draft resolution that made no mention of the violent policing that has prompted a nationwide uprising.
“If you are going to bring forth legislation to condemn property damage … but not speak out about the reasons why properties were damaged, and not speak out about the loss of life and the brutality, it is insensitive,” Councilmember Delishia Porterfield told her peers. “People will always be more important than property.”
She was joined by Councilmember Nancy VanReece, who disclosed a personal revelation from the night the Metro Courthouse was damaged and partially burned.
“I actually wept,” VanReece said. “And then I wept harder, because I realized that I had more of an emotional response to the building than I did to the people. And it shook me.”
The statements responded to a non-binding proposal from Councilmember Robert Swope that would have condemned the damage.
Swope’s resolution also would have asked residents and journalists to give their photos and videos from that night to police to assist in identifying vandals. And he sought to attribute the vandalism to members of the “Antifa movement,” asking Metro attorneys to, “explore ways in which to hold Antifa, and its local and national leadership … financially accountable.”
Across the country, President Donald Trump and other Republicans have tried, without producing evidence, to blame loosely organized “anti-fascist” groups that formed in reaction to Trump’s election for violent acts.
In making arrests, Metro police have not tied suspects to particular groups. They’ve speculated it could’ve been provocateurs or white supremacist groups, which often support the president.
Swope initially tried to defer the discussion to another date. But after other members spoke out, and under procedural pressure, he withdrew it altogether and attempted to clarify his position.
The audio is available here:
Swope told the council that his focus was on the physical and emotional toll on Nashville.
“What occurred in our city was domestic terrorism … with buildings and physical objects that people of this city own,” he said. “They are ours collectively. … That’s what made me cry more than anything else.”
The councilmember also said the Minneapolis officers involved in the death of George Floyd should be sentenced to life in prison.