#FreeTN Event Draws Hundreds to State Capitol in Nashville Over Stay-At-Home Order Extension


NASHVILLE, Tennessee – An estimated 750 people participated in the #FreeTN event held at the State Capitol in Nashville Sunday in response to the extension of the statewide stay-at-home order.

While #FreeTN organizer Kim Edwards of Nashville and others were not happy with the governor’s initial stay-at-home order, the extension from April 14 to April 30 moved them to action.

Kim and Josh Edwards
#FreeTN rally organizer Kim Edwards and husband Josh.

A Nashville mom of three, who with her husband open their home for Airbnb rentals, Edwards told The Tennessee Star that the message of the stay-at-home order is that their entire future is no longer essential, while the truth is “Everyone is essential.”

April 19, the day of the #FreeTN events, in 1775 marked the start of the Revolutionary War in the Battles of Lexington and Concord with what came to be known as “the shot heard ‘round the world.”

At the Nashville #FreeTN event, there were hundreds of people already lining Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard before the 1 p.m. start time.

The atmosphere was party-like, with flags waving, sign holding and music playing, drowning out the cloudy skies and light rain.

Along with the hundreds standing in front of the State Capitol, countless vehicles drove by, each carrying several people and displaying various methods of signage and honking their horns.

The Facebook events recommended that individuals use their own judgment such that those who were comfortable and wanted to stand outside in peaceful protest holding signs to do so or, alternatively, drive around the building with signs displayed for all to see.

Suggested signage took mainly a positive tone, and included “Everybody is Essential,” “Freedom is Essential,” “Stop Government Over,” “#FreeTN,” “#ReopenTN,” “#UnlockTN” and “Flattenthefear.”

Those driving sported license plates from Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hamilton, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties.

Courtesy of a sound system provided by veteran grassroots leader Ben Cunningham, brief opening comments by Kim Edwards were followed with a prayer by her husband Josh.

Cunningham played a stream of patriotic songs such as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” “God Bless America,” Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and “American Soldier,” and, of course one of Tennessee’s state songs, “Rocky Top.”

In between, the crowd joined together in various chants, often led by wedding DJ Josh Edwards and his drum, including “Open up Tennessee,” “We are essential,” “Free Tennessee,” and even “We need a haircut,” calling attention to the kinds of small businesses that are currently shut down.

Owner of Nashville-based “Off The Wagon” tractor tours, Curtis Carney made brief comments, telling attendees that he decided to open up his business. While he has received some negative feedback, Carney told the crowd, “It was worth it.”

Carney’s story was responded to with chants of “Open up.”

Judging by the crowd’s overwhelming reaction, a favorite moment was when a young boy nailed a rendition of “God Bless the USA.”

While there were about three Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) members standing on the Capitol steps, there were no reports of police interaction with the event attendees.

One event participant who spent their time driving and honking told The Star that as the crowd and the parade route got bitter and longer, THP began blocking some of the turn-around points and suddenly empty city busses jumped in line to break up the flow.

As 3 p.m. approached, Josh Edwards asked the crowd to pick up any trash and led a final chant of “Freedom is essential.”

#FreeTN events were also held in other cities across the state, including Chattanooga, Cookeville, Jackson, Johnson City, Knoxville and Memphis.

Kim Edwards told The Star, with the short notice, she was pleased with the turnout in Nashville of “the silent majority.”

A statewide event organized by Kim Edwards is scheduled for Monday, April 27 at 10 a.m. at the Tennessee State Capitol.

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.





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11 Thoughts to “#FreeTN Event Draws Hundreds to State Capitol in Nashville Over Stay-At-Home Order Extension”

  1. […] #FreeTN organizer, Kimberley Edwards scheduled the rally as a follow-up to those held in seven cities across the state last Sunday, The Tennessee Star reported. […]

  2. james R bellar

    come on folks.remem ber the scene from sgt york where he reads the bible verse,render unto ceasar?

    ceasar is now attempting to save your ass. render.

    1. M. Flatt

      It has been said that the Devil will quote scripture when it serves his purpose.
      The term “render” means we have a choice. That is the biggest liberty we have had taken from us. If we decided the risk of COVID-19 is too great, we can CHOOSE to stay barricaded in our homes. However, most of us are doubting this pandemic is all that bad.
      These people are wanting the choice to go out, get a haircut, dine with our friends, worship with fellow believers, compete with other athletes, and return to the classroom for learning. Many of those choices were removed because the venues were shut down “for the public good”. (That last phrase is the best cloak out there for the abuse of power.)
      If “Caesar” is saving our ass, it is only because “he” has good use for it. (You can translate that any way you want.) In the long run, we will all be paying for the “relief package” in the form of higher prices, bigger taxes, and major cuts to “governmental services”. That’s just the obvious stuff. There’s other, more subtle, shifts in the political zones. If our leaders can get away with this over something no worse than the flu, imagine how far they’ll go when there’s a real emergency.
      I had an Air Force sergeant tell me “An officer is a fool that doesn’t listen to his airmen.” Out state leaders are fools if they ignore the gathered voiced of the states citizenry.

      1. 83ragtop50

        M. Flatt – Well stated. The inmates are running the asylum.

      2. Trixie Belden

        Mr. Bellar: When Jesus said “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” He was holding up a coin and was referring to the payment of taxes. The government does not have the right to take away our God-given freedoms, those rights are from God. The government is trying to control our a$$, not save it, as you say. They are once again proving that without exception, government fixes are always worse than the problem.

        1. james R bellar

          maybe you should tell alvin york that so he can square himself with those germans he killed and became a war hero. myself and alvin believe it has more to do with than taxes. lawful commands by authorities are to be obeyed or in this case requests. no one is taking away your right of free speech, religion or assembly.

          our president and governor are your friend. they are doing their duty.

          dont you honestly believe that we can stay away from the bars and steakhouses a few more days?

      3. james R bellar

        happy covid-19 to you. i am one of those in the high risk group. if i catch this bug i am dead.my life is more important than your bi weekly haircut. i am also as conservative as they come. you are no better than antifa if you cant make a few sacrifices.

        sorry brother

        1. Jim

          Mr Bellar, for right, or wrong reasons, we have for years sent the best and brightest young Americans off to foreign lands to protect your and my way of life, knowing full well that many of them would not be coming home. Speaking for myself and a lot of similarly classified individuals that I know, it’s time that we older American’s return the favor and let our young Americans, who are NOT in the high risk category, live their lives as they see fit! And that means doing whatever it is that they do, including any and all types of work, as well as recreation!

          It’s up to me and you, to protect ourselves, which may or may not include continued social distancing, face masks, staying home or whatever you and the “experts” say helps! I’m very sorry that you are in the high risk group, welcome to getting old! But just remember, your Social Security is based on a “social compact between generations.” That means that the fiscal solvency of the Social Security system is based on younger generations working! So stop whining, start taking care of yourself, and let the young people work. It’s a win-win for you and them!

          1. james R bellar

            thank you. i have kin that fought in those wars that are buried in the phillipines. if you will check the latest tennessee statistics you will see those that are dying are the younger ones.
            i will protect myself but i have a problem with folks who will not wait 10 more days.

            us old guys have more than years. we have the knowledge so let the young eat theselves.

    2. Horatio Bunce

      You mean the scene where the military officer is trying to use the Bible by proof-texting one verse to turn Alvin from a conscientious objector into doing what the government wants him to do? Yeah, I remember that part. Then after he suceeded they used him as a propaganda tool on into WWII.

      Then TN would later abandon his dream of the York Academy…..it was for the good of the children I’m sure.

      1. james R bellar

        fake news