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THP Emails Describe 'Covert' Plan, Concerns About Arrests

THP Emails Describe 'Covert' Plan, Concerns About Arrests

CREATED Nov 10, 2011

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NewsChannel 5 Investigates has obtained emails sent by state officials as they launched two nights of arrests at Occupy Nashville.

Perhaps most stunning those emails show concerns that all the manpower put into the arrests could end up causing more deaths on the roads.

Those emails -- more than 250 messages in all -- were released late Wednesday under Tennessee's public records law.

Long before Occupy protestors prepared for arrest on that first night -- arrests that finally came around 3 a.m. on Oct. 28 -- the emails show Department of Safety and Homeland Security personnel engaged in what they called a "covert operation."

"The dress will be covert to blend into the crowd," wrote John Albertson III, director of the Highway Patrol's Special Investigation Bureau. "They will send any updates as to crowd size, placement and significant events."

Which they did over the next several days:

"Group still gathered and discussing rights and peaceful arrest."

"Still peaceful. TPAC play released with large crowd leaving."

"One male white in all black carrying an old military type gas mask on side seen in crowd. Still peaceful."

THP Col. Tracy Trott updated Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons after the first round of arrests, reporting: "Everything smooth."

Gibbons' response: "Good work."

After a second night of arrests, a Highway Patrol major expressed concern that troopers likely to get the same results if they carried other protesters before a Nashville magistrate.

"I think all the magistrates in Nashville are getting their guidance from the Judge," Maj. Phil Hardin wrote. "It will be the same results with any of the other magistrates."

Despite Trott's insistence that no overtime would be necessary, his number two -- Lt. Col. Dereck Stewart -- warned of some potentially terrible consequences of that decision.

"We're coming up on the heavy holiday travel time and we could lose a great deal of the momentum we have gained in our fatalities by making the troopers burn time and not be on the road," Stewart explained.

The emails also show that, in the days leading up to the arrests, state officials were documenting misbehavior witnessed out on the Legislative Plaza and around the state Capitol.

Still, one email noted that the real problem was that "the protestors have lost control of the situation with the homeless."