What started out as a calm, organized and private fundraiser descended into a brief fit of chaos last night when Occupy Nashville members infiltrated the occasion with the intent to disrupt.
The event, which was put on by the Heritage Foundation and held at a local Hilton Hotel, included a keynote address from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Knowing beforehand that the controversial former George W. Bush administration employee would be there, the protesters acquired tickets and plotted their occupation.
Once inside, they became confrontational, accusing Rumsfeld of war crimes in a showing that the Tennessean described as "a scene." According to a release that was put out by the group, they yelled, "I call upon you to surrender yourself as a war criminal!" A press release on the Occupy Nashville web site reads:
Several minutes into Rumsfeld’s speech, an Occupy Nashville protester stood up and shouted that one of the primary architects of the Iraq war misled the American public and said, “Citizens are waiting outside to receive you and render you to the custody of the authorities.”
Rumsfeld was accused of authorizing torture, causing the deaths of more than 6,000 American servicemen and woman and lying about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
An anonymous donor apparently paid for the four Occupiers to attend, as the cost per plate was $125. After the group stood up and interrupted the speech, security promptly escorted the members out. Outside of the building, 40 protesters were chanting, "Hey Donald, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!," passing out fliers and waiting for their covert heroes to emerge.
Once they came out of the hotel, the protesters were greeted with cheers. Then, they passionately described the "sacrifices" they made by attending the event and they, of course, self-congratulated themselves.
Watch the Occupiers' statements, below:
This, according to the members, was Nashville's contribution to the national "Day of Action," which commemorated the two-month anniversary of the Occupy movement.