Protesters marched through the streets of downtown Nashville in response to the National Order of Police 2017 convention being in town.
The group started in Public Square Park marched down Broadway and ended at the State Capitol. Demonstrators told local news that their rally was in response to the FOP National Conference, which kicked off at Opryland Monday.
That’s where protesters covered a statue of Confederate soldier Sam Davis and chained a bust of Terence Crutcher in its place.
Earlier, as protesters held up traffic outside of bars on Lower Broadway (Metro Nashville police meanwhile blocking the street and watching the march unfold) they chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Betty Shelby has got to go,” a reference to the Tulsa officer charged and then found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the September 2016 killing of Crutcher.
Crutcher was killed by a White police officer, Betty Shelby, in Tulsa Oklahoma. She was later acquitted in the case.
Shelby was said to be a speaker at the conference. Her attorney said resigned from the Tulsa police department in July but was sworn in Thursday as an unpaid reserve deputy for the nearby Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. Attorney Shannon McMurray said Shelby would also be speaking during the Fraternal Order of Police national convention.
McMurray said Shelby would tell the group of officers to have a lawyer in mind and a plan if they are involved in a shooting.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions served as the keynote speaker, announcing a controversial move to once again allow the federal government to provide surplus military equipment to local police.
Dixon Irene, part of the Showing Up for Racial Justice Nashville steering committee, credited FOP with assisting Shelby in beating the charge.
“We are here to say Nashville doesn’t welcome the FOP in our city,” Irene said.
While addressing the group of roughly 100 protesters prior to the march, Irene criticized both the FOP specifically and the law enforcement profession in general.
She alleged that policing was “an institution that started as a response to Black slaves escaping” and that police have historically “worked alongside the KKK and other hate groups” to “create a policy of fear and a society of hate.”
Around 15 Metro officers held traffic as the group marched both in the street and on sidewalks around downtown, chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and “The FOP protects White supremacy,” among other phrases.
Central Precinct Commander Gordon Howey still described the march as a “peaceful demonstration.”
“They got out and they were able to say what they wanted to say,” Howey said. “No one was hurt. We didn’t have any issues. There was no destruction of property, no violence.