State troopers, on orders from Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN), have repeatedly conducted nighttime raids on the Occupy Nashville encampment outside of the state capitol. During the raid at 2:30 a.m. Friday night, Nashville Scene reporter Jonathan Meador was detained along with 25 peaceful protesters. Meador, who had his camera on to interview attendees at the occupation, inadvertently recorded the state troopers as they appeared to conspire to slap fictitious charges against him.
The Nashville Scene’s Jim Ridley reports:
Thanks to him, Meador was able to produce this unedited video of his own arrest — or to be more accurate, the audio, since with troopers slamming Meador to the ground from behind and rendering him helpless, the image isn’t so hot.
No matter. The sound speaks volumes. What you will hear, very clearly, is a trooper telling another officer to book Meador for resisting arrest. You will also hear, very clearly, audio evidence of Meador’s contention: that he was simply doing his job as a reporter and tried to get off the plaza to comply with the law — but the troopers wouldn’t let him off that easy.
What you will not hear, in any form or fashion, is the slightest mention of public intoxication — the specious charge against Meador the THP has broadcast to the world. If that charge was made up later to discredit Meador — or even more appallingly, to divert attention from what a Metro Night Court judge last night told officers was a blatantly unconstitutional overstepping of government and police authority — nobody who cares about their First Amendment freedoms should sleep in Tennessee tonight.
Watch the video:
Chris Ferrell, the publisher of the company that owns the Nashville Scene, wrote a letter to Gov. Haslam asking him for an apology for arresting a member of the media. Ferrell and Meador are disputing the charge of public intoxication. Ferrell said Meador was not intoxicated but had one drink at dinner.
Despite the fact that the Haslam administration has continually ordered night time raids of the peaceful protesters, the local magistrate Thomas Nelson ordered their release each time.
This morning, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit to stop the nightly arrests of Occupy Nashville demonstrators, arguing that the state is violating their First Amendment rights, reports the Tennesseean.