Jun 26 2006
04:13 pm

Four police officers tasered and handcuffed a 61 year old disabled veteran at a Morristown rally protesting illegal immigration on Saturday. The man was arrested for "disorderly conduct" and "resisting arrest" while attempting to carry an American flag onto the courthouse lawn.

According to news reports, the protesters had permission to assemble at the courthouse, but there were more than 80 law enforcement officers including police, a SWAT team, THP troopers, and a police helicopter present. According to other reports, electricity was cut off to the protester's PA system and the helicopter hovered over the crowd disrupting the rally.

I'm probably not aligned much with the politics of these protesters, but since when did "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" get thrown out the window? And since when is it a crime to carry an American flag onto a courthouse lawn? And why does it take four strong young police officers with tasers and SWAT backup to take down an elderly, disabled veteran?

It seems like these peaceful assemblies only turn disorderly when the cops show up.

UPDATE: Joe Powell has more, including reports there were snipers on the courthouse roof.

Rachel's picture

The tee vee said the guy

The tee vee said the guy wanted to carry the flag on a pole into the courthouse, and the cops said no because the pole could be dangerous.  But I really don't know what the whole story is.

Andy Axel's picture

Time Approximate

I'm probably not aligned much with the politics of these protesters, but since when did "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" get thrown out the window?

About 5 minutes after the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Center.

But, to be fair, this administration has never been too keen on that part of the First Amendment.


"The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco." -- G.K.

lovable liberal's picture

Multiple video cameras

If you're going to protest in public, you should always plan for multiple video cameras so that you can get the truth out afterward.  Only one, and there's a good chance the authorities will confiscate it. 

 It'll also help keep your fringe elements in line if they know you will document any violence they do.

Anonymous's picture

Hamblen County

If you want to read more of the actions of Hamblen County's Mayor Purkey click the link below to view a blog of the only person on the Hamblen County Commission who cares at all about the people.


itchybro's picture

Hamblen County Uber Alles?

Wow, safari support IS limited (see below)
itchybro's picture

Hamblen County Uber Alles?

Mr. Neal, sent your link, the Joe Powell link and the Channel 6 link to my sister in Palo Alto.

Her response has some nice suggestions:


Thanks so much for forwarding this to me.

Its infuriating and disturbing, but I'd rather know than not.

This kind of police over reaction to peaceful public gatherings has been going on since 9/11(fearFearFEAR!!).
It really ramped up after the invasions (Afghanistan, Iraq...) commenced.

The authorities want to intimidate the citizenry into a trembling silence. Not only are they eroding civil liberties at every turn, surveilling our phone calls, financial transactions and comings and goings via "traffic cameras." They get in our face with heavy weaponry, helicopters and horses if you have the audacity to voice our opinion in public!

I see two silver linings to this.

1) Mom's neighbors seem to be on the good side of the immigration issue, and have the chutzpah to stand up for their 1st amendment rights.

Blessings upon Tom and Audrey for calling this out for what it is and for pursuing their grievance in a legal and PUBLIC fashion. They will need much support from the community, I really hope they get it.

2) This is a big wake up call to all those folks who have been lulled into complacency by the government and the mainstream media. Democracy as we have known it, is being eviscerated at every opportunity by the Bu$h administration.

Millions of our tax dollars have been spent militarizing local police departments .
Don't be fooled, this is NOT to protect you and yours from "terrorists."
(Mister Rogers might ask, "Can you say 'Police State'?)

The more people in places like Morristown figure this out, the more hopeful the situation becomes. Talk it up! Get people informed and involved. Its YOUR home and life on the line, after all. It is up to US--you and me, our friends, neighbors, colleagues, to assert and protect our civil liberties (push for net neutrality, clean elections, clean campaign financing, the list goes on and on).

(begin rant)
Ask questions, put the sheriff or police chief on the spot--IN PUBLIC.
WHO authorized this action? how much did it CO$T?
and whose budget will that be coming out of?
Just what *exactly* were their concerns about a bunch of middle
aged citizens with a flag in front of the courthouse?
Now how much did it co$t again, well, doncha think the city of Morristown
ought to be *reimbursed* by the feds/state of Tennessee, etc.
since it was so clearly unnecessary to have all those
officers (on overtime), with all that heavy equipment ...

What an OUTRAGEOUS abuse of the first amendment!
How UNAMERICAN of them!
How DARE they!!

*Keep going UP the chain of command.*
Keep asking WHY? who authorized?
Find out where this oppressive agenda originated. (I find it difficult to believe that the Morristown police came up with this on their own.)

MAKE A REALLY BIG STINK ...and... follow up. Work with the city council to form a citizens human rights committee that performs oversight on the police department. Keep asking questions. Document everything. Take Pictures. Put it in writing. Spread the word--Contact WATE 6 ! Go for the SUNSHINE, TRANSPARENCY, expose the real story.

These are the kinds of actions that will make the feds/state/local authorities think twice about doing this again. They need to see that people are paying attention, that they care about this stuff and are ready to raise some hell about it.

Extra credit ;-)


Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
[b]Is Bush Administration's Bank Spy Program One Part of a Resurgent Total Information Awareness?[/B]

Todays installment of "yet more spying on us by our government"

you can read the transcript, watch the video, or listen to the audio

get up, stand up...

Peace and love,

spintrep's picture

Morristown protest

It looks like the police over reacted with this flag pole guy, but I could see where his belligerence got him in trouble. According a witness interviewed on the news, he was given the option of carrying the flag without the pole. That wasn't good enough for him, he proceeded towards the courthouse and then ignored his responsibility to follow a direct command from law enforcement. If he had a case on the right to carry his flag AND pole... I would say he blew it.

When a cop tells you to do something, you don't really have much room to ignore them. Your best course is to take it to court later, especially in a public situation with so many witnesses.

He comes across as a sincere vet, maybe he never faced an arrest before. Physically resisting never works, even verbal tactics can be unpredictable. Maybe he didn't realize resisting could have such consequences. (some of us know otherwise.)

NOT to defend taser use. I hope this becomes the big issue here. Examples of abuse and extreme consequence with this technology are plentiful.

As most remember, Morristown was the site of a well attended rally/gathering of immigrants and their supporters earlier this year (there are numerous farms and industry in these areas that are employing illegal immigrants.) The event was low key and peaceful by reports I saw, with less news profile than other national gatherings. The numbers willing to show up sort of suprised me, and likely alarmed those prepared to take up a stronger and more immediate stand against illegals. While govt. drags in making new laws to address the problems, that situation seemed to be one of lobbying for amnesty.

Don't know all the backround on this story, but I did hear the suggestion that they thought the KKK might show up. If true, that ramps up the paranoia factor w/ the local constabulary. (No matter, it did look way out of proportion to any possible threat, I always wonder how much is spent/wasted on such security measures.)

Within the past year, local "Minuteman movements" have started up in the region, and while reports of participation by KKK activists are sketchy, there isn't much doubt where their sympathies lie. (For those not familiar, E. Tennessee has several reports of KKK groups. And in recent times, Cocke, Greene, and Hamlin Co. have seen public displays and demonstrations.)


Not that it takes the KKK to bring violence to these situations... they just seem to raise everyone's emotional acuity. I've lived in this area and met plenty of other "regular folks" over the years who seem capable dealing with problems outside the boundaries of civil rule if the situation calls for it, at least they have talked that way about other issues in my experience. Thus far, the real confrontations (reportedly by minuteman participants) have been on the back roads where employers are bending the rules and hiring illegals. This could escalate.     

I see the massing of police presence as a separate issue from this one flag pole patriot getting arrested. One can question police thinking and management on this one, but they may have seen it as a warm up or warning for troublemakers, where future events are likely.

Consider... changes for immigration and employment policy haven't really begun in terms of legislation. Future rounds to address what will become of the status of our current illegal population will be huge. The political (and unfortunately other) battlelines are being drawn. The real complications and hardships are yet to come.  

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