Back in May, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a curfew after large protests and civil unrest, including a night that damaged the Metro Courthouse.
But at the time, Metro police couldn’t enforce the order because there wasn’t a local law on the books.
That changed Tuesday, when most members of the Metro Council voted to make violating a mayoral executive order under civil emergency a Class C misdemeanor. It carries a $50 fine and a maximum of 30 days in jail.
Members that oppose the law says it will harm marginalized communities specifically Black and brown people and residents experiencing homelessness.
Councilmember Zulfat Suara worries the law will have unintended consequences.
“This is not necessary. If people are rioting the police can arrest them. They are doing that already,” she says.
But a majority, including former police commander Bob Nash, voted for the law.
“Certainly, we don’t want people discriminated against because of color,” he says. “At the same time, they don’t get a free pass either. That’s just a bad example.”
Supporters say this backs the mayor and allows local authorities to act without needing to call on the governor.