This YouTube—which quickly becomes audio-only—captures the odd arrest of Jonathan Meador, a Nashville Scene reporter who was covering the October 28 police crackdown on the Occupy Nashville protest when Tennessee Highway Patrol officers arrested him and and charged him with public intoxication and criminal trespass. The officers discuss charging Meador with resisting arrest—even though he doesn't sound like he was resisting arrest.
He also doesn't sound publicly intoxicated. At no time during the recording do the officers suggest that Meador is drunk. Maybe it's because he wasn't? "He was not drinking, and he did not appear to be drunk," a man described as a "media relations consultant, journalist, and former Republican spokesman" told the Tennessean newspaper. Chris Ferrell, the publisher of the company that owns the Scene, says the cops never administered a Breathalyzer test or a blood test to prove that Meador was intoxicated. Meador says he had one drink with dinner, but unless he had a full tankard of Diet Vodka he did not get drunk. So where did that public intox charge come from, then?
Also, where did the resisting arrest charge come from—and where did it go? From the audio, we gather that Meador tried to identify himself as press before one of the patrolmen said to him, "You're resisting arrest." Is identifying one's self as media an act of resistance? Not according to the Tennessee statute that defines "Resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search Prevention or obstruction of service of legal writ or process" (or common sense). Here's the most relevant part of that rule for our purposes:
It is an offense for a person to intentionally prevent or obstruct an officer of the state or any other person known to be a civil process server in serving, or attempting to serve or execute, any legal writ or process.
Meador didn't prevent the officers from arresting him. He didn't run off to the local Waffle House and try to hide. It doesn't even seem like he had any time to "prevent or obstruct" the officers in their attempt to arrest him. And he never raises his voice in speaking to the officers, so he can't be accused of "giving them guff," which isn't a technical legal term but a common form of resistance. The resisting arrest charge probably disappeared because there was never a basis for it.
As for Meador's criminal trespass charge, it was dismissed—along with those faced by 25 protesters scooped up during the same police crackdown. The night court magistrate who presided over their cases refused to sign their arrest warrants and released them. The protesters had been arrested on the basis of a 10 PM curfew imposed by Gov. Bill Haslam on the park where they had been demonstrating. The magistrate looked at his law books and found "no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere" at the Occupy Nashville site.
Ferrell the Scene publisher wants Haslam to apologize for Meador's arrest and vow to uphold the Bill of Rights or whatever it's called. You know, that thing with the freedom "commandments" that nobody in government pays much attention to anymore.