NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The overnight arrest of an on-duty print
journalist threatens this country's right to freedom of the press, according to
the CEO of a local publishing company.
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.
Ferrell described an almost ambush-style arrest.
"Jonathan was approached from behind, and taken down to his
knees," Ferrell described, based on eyewitness testimony. "He
said: 'I'm a reporter!' That wasn't acknowledged, and he was taken into
Ferrell also said that a colleague of Meador's was silenced by threat of
arrest when he, too, tried to tell troopers that Meador was, in fact, a
reporter on assignment.
The criminal trespass charge against Meador stemmed from troopers moving in
to arrest demonstrators from Occupy Nashville late Friday night, Saturday
Governor Bill Haslam last Thursday issued a strict 10:00 p.m. curfew on
several State properties, including the Legislative Plaza, and gave officers
the authority to arrest violators of the new policy.
As for reporter Jonathan Meador's charge of public intoxication, Ferrell
said the reporter admitted to having one drink over dinner earlier that
evening; but the claim that Meador was legally drunk, according to Ferrell, is
an allegation that would never hold up in court.