Demonstrators shackled themselves to the Tennessee Capitol on Friday while others across town sat in silence during starkly different protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
State troopers arrested six protesters who had chained themselves to the doors of the state Capitol. They also locked their arms together with duct tape wrapped around chicken wire and PVC pipes.
Troopers and firefighters used shears to cut the protesters loose from one another, and they were carried down the building’s southern steps to waiting sheriff’s vehicles while other demonstrators chanted and shouted.
The public entrances to the Capitol were dead-bolted while the protest was going on.
Tasha Fletcher of Protect the Culture, a group involved in the protest, said she believed the Trump administration represents racism, bigotry, big business and anti-LGBT tendencies. She said she sees similar attitudes in state government.
“I hope the attention will be effective,” Fletcher said. “The idea of a protest is for it to be kind of disruptive and a nuisance and annoying, and the threat of that being a pretty consistent thing should move people into action. That’s the hope.”
Earlier in the day, several hundred people at Centennial Park instead opted for silent reflection.
They took a 10-minute pause from talking as they declined to watch or listen to Trump’s swearing in.
Organizers also led a prayer and the pledge of allegiance, sang patriotic songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders shirts and buttons were scattered throughout the crowd.
Two counter-protesters nearby broke the silence with megaphones, shouting religious messages against homosexuality, abortion, Democrats, feminism and transgender people. Some event attendees responded by surrounding the protesters and singing songs.
Bruce Dobie, an event organizer, said the only correct response to Trump’s divisive rhetoric is silence.
“In silence, we grow stronger,” Dobie said. “We sit there, we think, we pray, we meditate. I think you could feel in the crowd everybody getting stronger and more united as the silence went on, even though we were getting heckled.”