While covering the Oct. 28th Tennessee Highway Patrol crackdown of Occupy Nashville, reporter Jonathan Meador was arrested despite repeatedly identifying himself as a member of the press. This video that captures the entire arrest was actually taken by Meador himself.
As the patrol moves in towards the Occupy Nashville protesters, you can hear Meador say "I'm getting off (of the plaza)" then, twice, "I'm a member of the media." Another voice, likely one of the troopers, responds, "You're resisting arrest," and another trooper says, "You had your time." You can hear officers discuss charging Meador with resisting arrest, although it doesn't sound as if there is any struggle, and he doesn't even raise his voice.
"Jonathan Meador, 26, an investigative reporter for the Nashville Scene, was arrested Friday night by Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers along Legislative Plaza. Meador was scooped up, along with 25 demonstrators from Occupy Nashville, and charged with public intoxication and criminal trespass."
"Meador's boss is demanding an apology from Governor Bill Haslam himself."
"What I simply asked for this morning was for the governor to acknowledge the mistake, apologize for it, and assure the citizens of Tennessee that he would uphold the Bill of Rights," said Chris Ferrell, CEO at SouthComm, the company that owns the Nashville Scene."
Public intoxication? This wasn't mentioned during the arrest, and strange that Meador didn't sound drunk, although he does admit to having one drink earlier in the evening with dinner.
"Bill Hobbs, a media relations consultant, journalist and former Republican spokesman, was at the protest and said he talked with Meador about five minutes before the police moved in."
“He was not drinking, and he did not appear to be drunk,” Hobbs said."
That intoxication charge wasn't announced until late Saturday morning, although there had been no Breathalyzer or blood test.
As luck would have it, charges were dropped on all of the Occupy Nashville protesters, and Meador, as well thanks to a local official who actually abides by the law.
"Under Tennessee state law, a judicial commissioner determines if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. That official in this case has set the demonstrators free, despite Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts."
"The magistrate, Tom Nelson, says state officials have no authority to set a curfew requiring the protesters to clear out or face arrest."
“The magistrate’s position is sort of a safety valve to prevent overzealous officers from putting people in jail for no reason,” Nashville attorney Jim Todd said. He said it’s extraordinarily rare when a magistrate refuses to sign off on an arrest warrant. But he supported Nelson’s decision, saying he believes the safety valve worked."
Amazing how the judicial system works to protect innocent people when you actually follow the written law and don't try to create new ones of your own.