Citizen Arrested While Filming A Political Rally Indicted By Grand Jury... Just After She Announces Her Plan To Sue Those Involved

from the jail-is-for-journalists dept

At long last, it looks as though the law will finally get its (wo)man. Fourteen months after a Dawson County (GA) deputy arrested citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale for filming a political rally at a local pumpkin farm, Sheriff Billy Carlisle is patting himself on the back for turning a potential civil liberties violation into a ham sandwich.

The indictment handed down by a Dawson County Grand Jury shows Nydia Pinzon Tisdale, 52, is now facing a third charge in connection with her Aug. 23, 2014 arrest.

Initially booked on felony obstruction of officer and misdemeanor criminal trespass charges, authorities have also added misdemeanor obstruction of officer to the counts against her.
"I'm proud to see this case being presented to the grand jury and allowing our court system to work as it was designed," said Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle. "I appreciate the citizens who sat on this grand jury, listening to all the evidence and bringing forth a true bill.

"I look forward to this case working its way on through our courts and hopefully, at the end, we will have a guilty verdict from a jury of our peers."
I imagine Carlisle is hoping for a jury of his peers, rather than, say, a jury of the accused's peers. Jim Galloway at AJC.com points out the timing of this indictment seems rather fortuitous.
One has to wonder if the timely – timeless? — indictment might have something to do with the fact that Tisdale has served notice that she intends to file a $550,000 lawsuit against the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Dawson County Board of Commissioners.
An audio recording of the arrest can be heard at FetchYourNews.com, along with still photos of the arrest captured by Brian Pritchard, whose documentation of the political rally received no additional attention from local law enforcement.

The attention paid to Tisdale's recording appears to stem from earlier efforts local politicians made to keep her and her camera away from their gatherings.
In 2012, the mayor of Cumming, Ga., had tossed Tisdale from a city council meeting – for pointing her camera at the proceedings.

[Attorney General Sam] Olens had taken up for the 51-year-old journalist. Two days earlier, the attorney general told her, a judge had signed an order that leveled a $12,000 fine at the city and mayor for violating the state’s open meetings law.
Not only was the city fined by a judge, but it also handed over a $200,000 settlement to Tisdale for violating her First Amendment rights. Attorney General Sam Olens was instrumental in pursuing the lawsuit against the city government.

Obviously, a little antagonism goes a long way. The arrest at Burt's Pumpkin Farm was deemed justified because it occurred on private property. Supposedly the owner had told Tisdale to stop filming the rally. (No explanation has been forthcoming as to why another journalist was allowed to shoot photographs and otherwise record the event). This is the sort of request a person can make on private property, but a rather strange one to make on private property that is also somewhat of a tourist attraction and is, for all intents and purposes, open to the public. On top of that, the political rally was also open to the public, but not, apparently, a certain citizen journalist carrying a video camera.

Both the request that Tisdale stop filming and law enforcement's actions were highly questionable. FetchYourNews states that the request only came after one of the rally speakers said something that he might have wanted to pass by unrecorded.
With Tisdale’s camera rolling, Hudgens started making his campaign stump speech. When talking about Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate Michelle Nunn, referring to the Chamber of Commerce debate between Perdue and Nunn, Hudgens said listening to Nunn, “I thought I was going to absolutely puke.”

Hudgens looked at Tisdale and said, “I don’t know why you’re video taping?”
According to FetchYourNews, Dawson GOP Chair Clint Bearden asked Tisdale to stop recording and leave. Farm owner Johnny Burt's statement to Dawson News in response to the grand jury indictment claims he was the one who asked Tisdale to stop recording. The FYN report says all of the involved parties disappeared in one of Burt's barns along with the now-arrested Tisdale to discuss what should be done.

Given the disparity between the eyewitness report and Johnny Burt's statements, it appears the discussion may have included who should be put down on the report as requesting Tisdale to stop recording. Considering everyone else involved would have been acting as representatives of the government (and with no claim to the private property), it would obviously make the most sense (legally) to have the request come from the farm owner.

Despite Tisdale's vocal protests and screaming (as she was arrested), only one person speaking at the rally made any comment about the highly visible arrest of a citizen carrying a camera: District Attorney Sam Olens.
“Let me be possibly politically incorrect here for a second. If we stand for anything as a party what are we afraid of with the lady having a camera filming us? What are we saying here that shouldn’t be on film? What message are we sending? Cause it’s private property they shouldn’t be filming? What is the harm? The harm that this poses is far greater than her filming us. What are we hiding? If we are telling you why we are running and what we stand for, what are we hiding?”

Then, as he pointed in the direction from where Tisdale was drug away he continued:

“There is no reason for that, that is not right”.
Tisdale's new lawsuit apparently claims First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations.
Also asserted is violation of Tisdale’s rights under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by retaliating against her (Tisdale) for exercising her right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as by falsely arresting her and using excessive force against her.
While the Fourth and Fourteenth determinations will largely come down to Deputy Wooten's actions, the First Amendment claims will be tough to make stick, considering the incident occurred on private property. Even though her removal was inconsistent (another photographer was never asked to stop or leave) and had a retaliatory appearance, private property owners are given a lot of leeway when it comes to handling guests and visitors on their property. The rally was apparently advertised as an event open to the public, but that sort of invitation doesn't turn private land into a public area.

While Deputy Wooten was off duty when he effected the arrest, this fact does little to decrease the power of his position. Law enforcement personnel still have the power to arrest and detain people, even while off the clock. The alleged retaliation probably can't be proven, especially if the landowner asked for her to be removed after she refused to stop filming. It might be that it never occurred to Johnny Burt to kick her out before being prompted to do so by public officials, but that will be a tough sell in court -- especially if Burt maintains he was the one who demanded that Tisdale stop filming and leave the property.

If nothing else, the timing of the grand jury's indictment is conspicuous in its proximity to the announced lawsuit. It's been more than year since Tisdale's arrest at Burt's Farm, but only six weeks since the lawsuit's announcement. And, during the intervening months, prosecutors -- apparently guided by outgoing Sheriff Carlisle -- have added another charge to Tisdale's potential rap sheet.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 10:01am

    "What are we hiding? If we are telling you why we are running and what we stand for, what are we hiding?”

    You don't say... I think it is clear that this has nothing to do with hiding anything but instead about having power and using it as they see fit to keep the serfs quelled and unwilling to challenge authority.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 10:27am

    What became of the tape itself? It might be able to impeach Burt's testimony, if it was Bearden who asked her to leave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    383bigblock (profile), 23 Nov 2015 @ 10:31am

    The Sound of money

    That sound you here is the crackle of a brand new check book when it first opens up.

    They should charge everyone who went into the barn with some sort of conspiracy charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 10:47am

    georgia, you say?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 11:26am

    From one of the linked articles:

    According to Johnny Burt, he instructed Wooten to get Tisdale to stop making a video recording of the speakers. When she refused, Burt said he ordered Wooten to make her leave.


    So the owner told the sheriff - and not the person in question - that he wanted her to stop taping, and that he wanted her to leave when she refused. So then the question is, did the sheriff actually tell her that he was acting on the authority of the owner? Or did he just say "you have to leave" without any justification? I think the case hinges on that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shawn, 23 Nov 2015 @ 11:46am

    Charges

    I will be willing to bet a large cup of coffee from the place of your choice that she will be offered a "plea" deal in which the charges magically vanish and she dismisses her lawsuit with prejudice

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 23 Nov 2015 @ 11:48am

    Sickening

    This part makes me sick.
    "I'm proud to see this case being presented to the grand jury and allowing our court system to work as it was designed," said Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 12:22pm

      Re: Sickening

      That sheriff should be just as happy when he is charged with harassment and intimidation charges, along with whatever fake charges they made to make her look like a bad person

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 6:51pm

      Re: Sickening

      It's hilarious that he seemed to be specifically talking about the Grand Jury true bill, in that the whole GJ thing was designed for the express purpose of protecting citizens from malicious prosecution by the government. (I know, I'm stunned too: I'd always assumed that it was designed to protect politicians and cops from justified prosecution... who'da thunk it?)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 12:54pm

    Someone had something to hide at this private political rally. No mention in the article of the political group behind this political rally. I am all for freedom of the press, so where is Paul Harvey when you need him? I will wait for page two, and only then will I know the rest of the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), 23 Nov 2015 @ 1:03pm

    Republicans sure do love handing out taxpayers money in lawsuits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 23 Nov 2015 @ 3:29pm

    We can't have people exercising their rights. They might start to think this is their country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    cunts, 24 Nov 2015 @ 5:22am

    real cunts

    all americans are fucking cunts and cunts of cunts so go fuck yourself american cunts cunts

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    oldschool (profile), 24 Nov 2015 @ 5:43am

    citizen arrested while filming

    "Law enforcement personnel still have the power to arrest and detain people, even while off the clock."

    As long as there is a warrant for the arrest. This officer could have been killed justifiably by anyone at the scene because he had no warrant for the arrest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 27 Nov 2015 @ 10:47am

      Re: citizen arrested while filming

      "As long as there is a warrant for the arrest."

      The real question then, is, "do any cops know this fact?"

      I think not.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James Miles Head, 14 Feb 2016 @ 8:19pm

    Public disclosure of politics is as American as Apple Pie

    I've noted that since our country began trying to control our civil rights the more determined I am to expose the responsible parties.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professional Woman and Voter within this district, 20 Apr 2017 @ 12:04pm

    Bearden asked her to stop filming. The "good ole boys" did not want to list in police report. Bearden is an attorney and a magistrate judge. It would not be good for him to have forcible removed a woman in the manner in which was done. She was assaulted. Shame on you Deal for sitting there an not doing anything. Make a change by not supporting the pumpkin farm, Attorney Bearden, or Deal.
    Hold them accountable!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Simon, 10 Dec 2017 @ 9:39pm

    Nydia Tisdale Trial

    The trial occured during the week of November 27-Dec 4. This link can provide some background info on the trial and its verdict.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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