U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn was the target of a demonstration at a Brentwood restaurant on Friday evening.
Around 7 p.m. a group of eight protesters gathered, carrying signs and a banner calling for passage of the HEROES Act, a proposed $3 trillion stimulus package that would extend enhanced unemployment, offer eviction protections and address other concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The demonstrators approached a first floor window of Mere Bulles, a restaurant on Maryland Way, in the front of the building where the senator, a Williamson County resident, was dining at a window-side table.
Protesters displayed their signs and chanted, prompting what appeared to be an employee inside to quickly close the curtains and blinds. That led to protesters knocking on the window, demanding that Blackburn listen to their grievances, with many saying that they were unemployed due to the current health crisis.
After just a few minutes a restaurant employee confronted the group and told them that they had called the Brentwood Police Department, whose headquarters is two building away from the restaurant. Officers were able to actually see the demonstration from parking lot in the back of Brentwood City Hall.
Police quickly responded to the scene and issued verbal trespassing warnings and had the the group moved off the private property and to the side of the entrance on Maryland Way. There, they were allowed to continue their demonstration.
At one point the a vehicle that protesters believed was Blackburn's left the restaurant using a side lot and was led out by a Brentwood Police cruiser, something that caused the small group to turn their attention and signs towards the vehicle.
The group, which was made of of individuals of several different activist groups including ROC Music City and a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, said that they were tipped off about Blackburn's dinner plans in advance.
"Instead of passing a bill to extend that, the senators have decided to give themselves a three-day weekend and Marsha Blackburn is here at a very nice restaurant spending probably the amount of money that our next weekly payment will be, so we're out here to say that's not OK," protester Hayden Smith said.
"We've got folks out here who are literally unemployed and their checks are ending today," protester Anne Barnett said.
Many patrons of the restaurant looked out at the group from a balcony, with some patrons taking photos on their phone while others mocked the protesters and a few gave them thumbs up.
A third protester, Brenda Waybrant, said that she has to have surgery in the coming days and isn't able to just find another job as she recovers, adding that she is relying on those unemployment benefits.
"Unemployment is really, do I get to get to pay my car payment, do I get to have food, do I get to have internet for the month that I'm sitting in my bed recovering, and it's really disappointing that our elected officials don't care about their constituents being able to eat and being able to have a roof over their heads," Waybrant said.
Waybrant added that Brentwood isn't immune to the struggles that have hit Nashville.
"Economic devastation in Nashville doesn't just happen in Nashville alone," Waybrant said. "If Nashville has so much economic devastation from people losing their jobs, the restaurant industry isn't coming back the way that it was, the entertainment industry isn't coming back the way that it was for a long time and Nashville has been built on its tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries.
"With some many of those people out of jobs and without jobs to go to, the effect of that is going to ripple into Brentwood. So people in Brentwood should really pay attention to this and should stand with us."
According to the state, as of June the state unemployment rate was at 9.7%, and Nashville has seen continued struggles in dealing with the virus and its impacts on nearly every industry.
Blackburn's office did not return a request for comment.