Another skirmish between state troopers and protesters at the Tennessee State Capitol left one man hospitalized this weekend. This altercation comes as protesters approach their 30th straight day of camping outside the state Capitol.
The man has not been officially identified. Protester Laroy McGee says he was right next to him when he was injured. Both McGee and the Tennessee Highway Patrol say the man was near the top of the Capitol steps, speaking through a bullhorn, when troopers confiscated it.
That’s where accounts start to diverge. THP says troopers began moving a barricade aside to apprehend the man, who they say appeared intoxicated. They say he fled and fell down the steps. THP maintains it “never once came into contact with any protestor.”
But McGee says the man fell because a trooper pushed him out of the way.
“He was on the fourth step from the top, and he missed a couple steps and fell and hit his head,” McGee says.
The man became unresponsive and was hospitalized. Protesters say he now has a broken jaw. The THP says he’ll face charges when he’s released.
This altercation comes after weeks of demonstrators’ occupying the plaza outside the capitol, during which time THP has made more than 150 arrests and made multiple seizures of property.
One goal of the protesters is to remove the bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol. The State Capitol Commission approved that change last week, but the Tennessee Historical Commission still has to vote on it. It isn’t likely to begin taking up the issue until the fall at the earliest, with a final vote possible in February, but protesters are asking members to approve the removal ahead of schedule.
Clarification: This story has been updated to detail the timeline that the Tennessee Historical Commission may follow.