Nashville, Tenn. (TN Tribune)–A new book titled The People’s Plaza: 62 Days of Nonviolent Resistance describes two revolutionary months of nonviolent resistance in Nashville.
From June 12, 2020, until the passage of the state law making the occupation a felony two months later, peaceful protesters set up camp at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza and renamed it for Ida B. Wells.
Central to the occupation was Justin Jones, a student of Fisk University and Vanderbilt Divinity School whose place at the forefront of the protests brought him and the occupation to the attention of the Tennessee state troopers, state and US senators, and Governor Bill Lee. The result was two months of solidarity in the face of rampant abuse, community in the face of state-sponsored terror, and standoff after standoff at the doorsteps of the people’s house with those who claimed to represent them. In this, his first book, Jones describes those two revolutionary months of nonviolent resistance against a police state that sought to dehumanize its citizens.
The People’s Plaza is a rumination on the abuse of power, and a vision of a more just, equitable, anti-racist Nashville—a vision that kept Jones and those with him posted on the plaza through intense heat, unprovoked arrests, vandalism, theft, and violent suppression. It is a first-person account of hope, a statement of intent, and a blueprint for nonviolent resistance in the American South and elsewhere.