The Tennessean today writes about how the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) infiltrated Occupy Nashville using plainclothed officers. The paper used a public records request to obtain emails confirming that two THP officers infiltrated the Nashville protests.
The two THP officers who infiltrated the movement used vague rumors of drug use and lewd behavior to justify their need to go undercover at Occupy Nashville. One of the officers, Lt. Preston Donaldson, even created a fake online handle to try to infiltrate the group’s online chats. In an email obtained by the Tennessean, Donaldson was hoping that the Health Department would shut down the protests and make the police “look like the good guys”:
In addition to regularly monitoring Occupy Nashville updates on social media, the THP unsuccessfully attempted to access a secure chat room for the group on Oct. 10. “I attempted to log onto it giving a fake login name Patrick82 on my laptop and was not successful,” an email from Donaldson said. Just over a week later, Donaldson expressed hope that the protest would be shut down by the state Health Department. “If they start camping, I’m confident that a public health issue will soon develop,” Donaldson’s email stated. “Then the Health Dept. can shut it down and we all look like the good guys.”
“My question in response would be: ‘Why are they messing with such a peaceful protest in such a warlike manner. Why declare war on peace?’” said one Occupy Nashville demonstrator in response to the Tennessean investigation.