NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – As the 24-hour-a-day protest at the state capitol approaches its 50th day, the cost to pay overtime and travel expenses for state troopers has ballooned to $878,626.15.
The latest available figure is only for roughly half of the protest so far, between May 31 and June 30.
According to a spokesman for TEMA, the cost cannot be reimbursed by federal dollars because of its type of emergency, therefore it will be paid out of the state’s reserve funds for emergencies.
Activists like Justin Jones said the protestors shouldn’t be blamed for the costs.
“That is the choice of the governor. This could have easily been over with a conversation. If the governor has come out on day one to talk to these people – we’ve been out here for 50 days – that would have saved all that money,” Jones said.
Jones said the more than 150 arrests have been unnecessary for a non-violent protest.
“I think you have to ask the governor that: why is that decision being made? It’s not economically conservative nor is it moral or just,” Jones said.
In a statement to News4 Investigates, a spokesman for the Governor’s office wrote, “The protesters you reference have repeatedly defaced public property and violated Tennessee law. We will continue to protect public property and enforce the law.”
News4 Investigates will continue to monitor the costs as the protests continue.