State Rep. Frank Niceley has coupled a plea for New York officials to show leniency toward a Blount County woman arrested on gun charges with what he calls “a little humorous threat” for New Yorkers traveling in Tennessee.
In a resolution introduced by Niceley would formally put the state Legislature on record of supporting Meredith Graves, who was arrested in New York City on felony gun charges last month after asking a security guard the proper procedure for checking in her pistol after seeing a “no guns allowed” sign at the World Trade Center Memorial.
Graves has a handgun carry permit for her .32 pistol in Tennessee and was unaware that New York law strictly prohibits carrying weapons at the time of her visit, according to supporters.
“We hereby urge the state of New York to use common sense and sound judgment in the disposition of the case against Meredith Graves,” says HJR585.
“Be it further resolved that we remind the citizens of New York, especially those residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great state of Tennessee, paying extra attention to our speed limits,” says the resolution, which calls for a certified copy to be transmitted to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Niceley said he is confident the resolution will be approved by the House and Senate. Eleven other legislators had signed on as co-sponsors as of Thursday.
The Strawberry Plains Republican said he had discussed the resolution with Graves’ New York lawyer, who approved of the idea in hopes it will help Graves.
Niceley said Graves, a nurse practitioner studying to become a physician, is now facing possible prison time and the end of her professional hopes simply because “was trying to do the right thing.”
“What’s as bad as that is Mayor Bloomberg jumping the gun and telling the world she had cocaine in her purse and all she had was a BC powder,’ said Niceley, referring to a Bloomberg comment on the arrest at a news conference.
Other officials have acknowledged Graves had no cocaine. BC is a powdered aspirin that Niceley said is apparently not well known in New York.
The lawmaker said the reference to New Yorkers traveling in Tennessee is “just a little humorous threat.”
“What we’re trying to do is draw attention and show what a ridiculous thing this is,” he said. “A little humor helps. But then, I don’t know how Tennessee highway patrolmen are going to take this. They’ve got a mind of their own.”
Niceley said two of his three daughters have handgun carry permits and one has spent time in New York.
As a college student, Niceley said he himself traveled to Mexico with a pistol, not realizing until later that the country punished such behavior as a felony subject to penalty of life in prison at the time.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when people try to obey the law and get in trouble for it,” said Niceley. “This could make New York like a third world country, where people are more afraid of the police than they are of the banditos.”
News release from TBI:
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested the former finance director for the City of Winchester after she was indicted by the Franklin County grand jury yesterday on theft, forgery and misconduct charges.
Mary Faye Morrow, 63, of Huntland, Tenn. was charged with theft over $60,000, two counts of official misconduct, forgery and tampering with government records. Morrow left the finance director position in July of 2010, but remained working in the office until the end of that year. The finance director who replaced Morrow took note of the amount of money coming into the system and the District Attorney General requested TBI open a case on missing funds in July of 2011. The comptroller’s office conducted an audit as part of the investigation.
Morrow was booked into the Franklin County Jail and posted a $10,000 bond
Statement from Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, as reported by The Tennessean:
“As I noted in our conversation, based on our review of the video available to us and interviews with the troopers, we believe the troopers acted reasonably and in good faith and had probable cause to charge Mr. Meador.
“As I mentioned to you, video shows that, as other reporters were moving away from the protesters, Mr. Meador placed himself in the middle of them. To our knowledge, he had no visible media credentials. Regarding the public intoxication charge, based upon the smell of alcohol and their interaction with him, troopers understandably concluded that he was intoxicated.
“Given the circumstances, the troopers did not take Mr. Meador’s claim to be a member of the media seriously. Unfortunately, but also somewhat understandably,they did not ask Mr. Meador to produce his press credentials.
“Obviously, it was not our intention to take any member of the press doing his or her job into custody for trespassing. I regret any confusion regarding Mr. Meador’s role.”
Not too surprisingly, the state party chairs have taken different positions on Gov. Bill Haslam’s authorization of Occupy Nashville protesters.
More unusual: The state Democratic party is emailing reporters a collection of comments critical of the arrests featuring – with apparent approval – such state conservative luminaries as Sen. Stacey Campfield, blogger David Oatney and former state GOP Communications Director Bill Hobbs. Devaney Hails Haslam, THP News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney issued the following statement in response to this morning’s arrests of “Occupy Nashville” protestors.
“The arrests and removal of persons from Legislative Plaza this morning were the result of numerous complaints from the protestors themselves of deteriorating conditions on the Plaza. While every American has the right of assembly and free speech, there is a line that should not be crossed. When a line of public safety is crossed, action is warranted,” said Devaney.
“Governor Haslam’s administration was well within their right to impose a curfew on Legislative Plaza after mounting complaints by ‘Occupy Nashville’ protesters and local residents of personal theft, sexual obscenities, and defecation on the grounds by individuals staying for extended periods of time within Legislative Plaza. This was a matter of personal and public safety.
“I commend the professionalism of the Tennessee Highway Patrol for the manner in which this situation was handled. The protesters were given fair warning of the imposed curfew and given additional time to leave, even after the Highway Patrol arrived.
“It is astonishing to me that any individual, or group, would attempt to politicize this incident and argue against implementing a curfew around the Plaza when the personal safety of individuals is being compromised and sanitary conditions had plummeted to such egregious levels,” concluded Devaney.
— Forrester Blasts Haslam, Hails Judge
Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester’s criticism of the arrests, via Jeff Woods It’s not Governor Haslam’s right to decide which protesters are welcome on public property and which ones are not. Whether it’s Occupy Nashville or the Tea Party, the public has a constitutional right to address their feelings to the government on public land, which is the Legislative Plaza.
This is uncharted territory and it’s very slippery territory given our fundamental right to express our grievances, whatever they may be, to our government. Governor Haslam overstepped his bounds dramatically.
It’s heartening to know a sensible judge understands the constitution and dismissed the charges as irrelevant.
Both Knoxville mayoral candidates have minor arrest records, according to the News Sentinel. Mark Padgett was jailed briefly in Florida in 2003 on a charge of first-offense reckless driving, according to court records in Walton County, Fla. He was released on bond, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving and paid $83 in fines and court costs.
His opponent, Madeline Rogero, was arrested in 1974 and 1989 — both arrests connected to demonstrations.
“It is well-known that I was arrested twice, many years ago,” Rogero said.
She was recently endorsed by the Knoxville Fraternal Order of Police, which presented both candidates with questionnaires. The form did not ask about arrest records. Rogero said she told the FOP about her incidents when she was interviewed by FOP leaders.
Padgett said he was not asked when he was interviewed.
By Bill Poovey,Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jurors at the federal weapons trial of a Georgia militia supporter charged with traveling into Tennessee with an AK-47 and handgun to make citizens’ arrests of judges and law officers found out quickly Tuesday from his attorney what to expect: “Downright kooky.”
Court records show Darren Wesley Huff, 41, of Dallas, Ga., traveled in April 2010 to the Monroe County Courthouse for what he said was a plan to take it over, and if necessary use force to do so, in support of serving a citizens’ arrest warrant that also named President Barack Obama.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie said Huff and others were involved in a takeover plan that stemmed from their support of a local activist’s earlier unsuccessful attempt to arrest the Monroe County grand jury foreman.
Gary Pettway testified Tuesday as the first witness at the trial that as grand jury foreman at the time in the rural county between Knoxville and Chattanooga he refused a demand to pursue charges Obama related to questions about his American citizenship.
“Every one of you all may think he (Huff) and his ilk are kooky as all get out” Huff’s attorney, Scott Green, said in an opening statement. Green said Huff and the others “love their country.”
Former District Attorney General Joe Crumley turned himself in Friday night on charges stemming from a September pursuit by Jonesborough Public Safety, according to the Johnson City Press. According to booking information from the Washington County Detention Center, Crumley, 58 215 Scott Lane, Jonesborough, arrived at the jail Friday with a bondsman and was booked on charges of reckless driving, evading arrest, reckless endangerment and failure to yield.
His bond was $12,500. He bonded out of the jail that night.
Crumley, who was district attorney general from 1998-2006, was stopped by Jonesborough officers just after noon on Sept. 21 after nearly striking a patrol vehicle head on in the 100 block of East Main Street, according to JPS.
Crumley was pursued to Tenn. Highway 81 South, where he was stopped after reportedly running several vehicles off the road. Once stopped, Crumley’s vehicle lurched forward, striking a JPS vehicle involved in the pursuit. No one was reportedly hurt in that crash.
Six of the protestors carried out of a state Senate committee room by state troopers Tuesday were from Memphis and one from Chattanooga, according to news reports. Andy Sher looks at the protest from the Chattanooga perspective: Ash-Lee Henderson, 25, a member of Chattanooga Organized for Action, was among a group of 30 to 40 protesters, many of them students, who went to the Senate Commerce Committee hearing.
They appeared to grow frustrated and began shouting at committee members after the panel spent more than an hour listening to lobbyists arguing over a telecommunications bill pushed by AT&T. Group members then began chanting about “union busting” by legislative Republicans.
Those who defied Commerce Committee Chairman Jack Johnson’s directive to leave found themselves about a half hour later facing troopers. Some linked arms and fell to the floor in passive resistance. Troopers began forcibly separating them and dragging them off. Richard Locker has the Memphis protester perspective: Ryan Smith, a Memphis firefighter-paramedic, and his fiancée, Sara Yarley, a Shelby County teacher, drove to Nashville for the rally.
“It feels like an attack on middle-class working people,” Smith said of the bills affecting collective bargaining, union dues, informational picketing, political contributions and others.
“I wake up every morning to go on fire and emergency medical calls and work as hard as I can to help the people of Memphis. Sara wakes up every morning, teaches for Shelby County, goes to school to try to educate the children and works hard to do it — and it feels like the bills they’re putting forth are just an attack on hard-working people like us.”
Yarley, who teaches music in grades K-8, agreed.
“We both love our jobs and we do them because we love them. We both got into them not for the pay, and we understood that from the beginning. But we didn’t expect to be constantly threatened by our government — the same people we work for. To us, the most important thing is we serve the community we love,” she said.
Later, in the Senate committee where the protest occurred, several AFSCME members joined the chanting. But several other union members, including members of the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association, sat silently and eventually walked out.
The activists arrested — some of them students — were organized by the MidSouth Peace & Justice Center and a similar citizen-action group in Chattanooga, said Jacob Flowers, director of the Memphis center.