KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health is seeking vandalism charges against a protester who has set up camp outside Holston Valley Medical Center.
According to a report from the Kingsport Police Department, officers responded to the medical center Monday after receiving a call from Ken Harr, Ballad Health’s Chief Security Officer, in regards to damaged property.
Harr told police a 24-hour sit-in protest has been ongoing since May 2019.
According to the report, Harr told officers that protester Tara “Dani” Cook has erected tents and tarps on the grassy area along the side of West Ravine Road and the sidewalk.
The report stated the grass has died as a result of the tarps and tents covering parts of the area.
Harr also said Cook recently moved her camp, requiring Ballad Health to re-sod the area.
The cost to re-sod the area was $1,300, according to the report.
The new encampment area has allegedly caused the same amount of damage.
A ditch line was reportedly dug along the sidewalk area to attempt to drain water or secure tarps at the site of the protest.
The report says the ditch was dug by Cook.
Harr told KPD Ballad Health wished to pursue criminal charges.
Ballad Health officials have released the following statement regarding what they describe as damaged property at Holston Valley Medical Center.
“Ballad Health supports the right for individuals to protest, but the complaint speaks for itself and outlines the destruction of private property that has occurred at Holston Valley Medical Center.”
News Channel 11 was at the site of the protest Tuesday where Dani Cook refused to speak with one of our reporters.
Tuesday night, members of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman will be considering a proposal to change city code so that the city could remove temporary or permanent structures from public rights of way.
If approved, the change would allow the city to fine people who do not get approval for having structures on public rights of way.
City Attorney Mike Billingsly told News Channel 11 the proposal would remove structures, not people, and does not target a specific group.
The first reading of the proposal is set to take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Kingsport.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned with News Channel 11 online and on-air for updates.