An hour after choosing to legally protest on the sidewalks in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse, two members of the Occupy Chattanooga movement announced they were willing to get arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
Landon Howard and Heidi Davis, both of whom said they’d never been arrested before, decided that after the Chattanooga City Council told them they could not stay in a public park after 10:30 p.m., they would instead camp on the lawn in front of the City Council building at 1000 Lindsay St.
Howard, 29, received his bachelor’s in social work from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2010. Davis is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her 7-year-old daughter while her husband, Eric, works.
They said their plan was to get arrested so they could challenge in court a city ordinance enforcing a 10:30 p.m. curfew in all parks.
«We’re not doing this in spite,» Howard said. «We’re nice people who just stand up for justice.»
Davis called her husband before heading to the City Council building. «Be careful and don’t get hurt,» he told her.
«I’ve tried to live my life in a way that I wouldn’t have to be arrested for anything,» she said. «But when it comes to this, … we realize that there are some rules we don’t feel they should be able to hold over our head, and you realize the consequences, then it’s up to you to stand up for it if you feel it’s that important.»
Davis and Howard marched, holding hands, from the County Courthouse to the City Council building while Chattanooga Police Officer Mark Shelton followed them in a squad car.
When they arrived, they approached Shelton to tell him their plan.
«I don’t know how to tell you this,» Howard said before telling Shelton that they planned to break the law.
Ultimately, Shelton sent the information that two people brought out sleeping bags up the chain of command, and after two and a half hours, and after his superiors and other police officers arrived to talk about the issue, he and the other cops left.
As of 2:30 a.m., the two had not been arrested, but they planned to continue camping in front of the City Council building.