Occupy Nashville: federal judge halts arrests after reporter Jonathan Meador records his own (Video)


A circle of protesters wait to be arrested at Jamison Park in Portland, Ore. (Don Ryan/AP)

Journalist Jonathan Meador, a reporter for the weekly newspaper Nashville Scene, was interviewing protesters on Saturday night at the Occupy Nashville event when police moved in and began arresting the crowd.

In the video, police appear to approach the chanting crowd, while protesters yell at them “We love you!” Meador can be heard repeating, “I’m a member of the media.” The visuals are obscured, but a second voice can be heard saying, “When you get him up there charge him with resisting arrest.” The same voice can be heard telling Meador that he is putting Meador’s camera in his pocket.

Meador wrote on Twitter that he and about 25 other protesters were bound with zip ties and taken to the police station.

The city enacted a curfew to keep protesters off the square at night. On Friday and Saturday police arrestes protesters to enforce the curfew. Both nights, however, the court threw out the warrants, saying they could not enact the curfew. Meador returned to the Occupy Nashville protests Sunday night.

“The Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons has spoken to Chris Ferrell, CEO of the Nashville Scene’s parent company,” Dalya J. Qualls, a spokeswoman for the department said in an e-mailed statement. “We plan to review all of the materials documenting the arrest or Mr. Meador and depending on the review will respond appropriately. It is not our intent to interfere with a journalist doing his or her job.”

On Monday morning, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Nashville protesters, claiming a curfew put in place violates the right to free speech. Monday afternoon, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order requiring police to stop arresting protesters, the Tennessean reports.

Elsewhere this weekend, dozens more were arrested in similar protests. In Oregon, around 30 people were arrested. In Texas, on Sunday, around 39 people were arrested. A Twitter handle @OccupyArrests has started tracking every report of arrests made in the protests.

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