While Governor Bill Haslam's storm troopers backed off Legislative Plaza Saturday night/Sunday morning and 150 Occupy Nashville protesters prepared to go to jail were spared police violence, an episode from the night before underscores just how arbitrary and capricious the Haslam curfew is. While well-to-do theater-goers continued to be allowed access to the plaza past curfew, THP troopers combatively descended on occupiers, but they also forced a professional reporter, Jonathan Meador, to the ground and into cuffs despite his continuous exclamations that he was part of the press corp.
Meador's continuously running flip camera recorded the entire violation for posterity and for blogger fodder:
According to Meador's news company, when a fellow journalist asked one of the officers if they actually intended to to lock up a reporter, the cop shot back, "You want to be next"? The Nashville Scene also reports that when it became evident that the initial charges Meador's arresting trooper ordered ("resisting arrest") at the end of the video were bogus given his status, they switched Meador's charge to "public intoxication". He did not appear publicly intoxicated to me in the video. What I heard were sober and cogent appeals to allow him as a reporter to move off the plaza.
If the cops were allowing TPAC ticket holders to enter and exit the plaza after the curfew, why did they refuse to let Meador do the same instead of trumping up charges twice in what appears to be a blatant act of intimidation on observers who might document bad things that happen when the state cracks down on nonviolent assemblies?