Category Archives: VCC 2005-05-05

Arrests for speaking in an Arizona town

Something seems familiar about this story of a couple of people being arrested at small town council meetings for speaking up.

Ben Popken wrote for the Consumerist 15 July 2011, Small Arizona Town In Furor After 2nd Citizen Arrested For Speaking At Town Meeting:

The town of Quartzsite, AZ, population 3,466, is in disarray after a video showing police hauling away a citizen for speaking at the town meeting podium went viral. The woman was saying that the town council had been violating open meeting laws.

It was the second citizen arrested at a Quartzsite town meeting in two weeks.

What’s all this about? Continue reading

Anniversary Motorcade to City Council/ Anniversary Arrest of Valdosta 15

I asked if he wanted publicity about this and he said yes. -gretchen
May 5, 20011 marks the 6th anniversary of the arrest of the Valdosta 15. It was the day that 15 of Valdosta’s finest citizens were arrested in City Council, charged with “Disrupting a Public Meeting,” and taken to the Lowndes County Jail. We were denied bail, and a telephone call. And, in some instances, medicine.

The city spent thousands of dollars on our arrests and appeals. In the end, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled

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Runaround —Leigh Touchton

Leigh Touchton responded to Valdosta Mayor John Fretti’s response to her previous post. -jsq
Happy Birthday, Mayor Fretti, and thank you for posting publicly.

However, I wish you would stop trying to pass Mayor and Council’s portion of responsibility for the biomass incinerator to the Industrial Authority. I delivered a letter to Mayor and Council Thursday night outlining 10 reasons your Utilities Director can legitimately give when he (hopefully) follows Mayor and Council’s recommendation to refuse to sell gray water to the proposed biomass incinerator. I and many other citizens are tired of the run-around and the shifting of responsibility for this “biomess” from one public official or group to another.

A councilmember told me that Council would never vote

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Touchton v. City of Valdosta, Georgia, et al.

Mayor Fretti mentioned a lawsuit against him and the city of Valdosta that was dismissed. Court records on that are available.

According to Dockets & Filings, Catherine Leigh Touchton filed a federal civil rights lawsuit 30 May 2007 against John Fretti and the City of Valdosta Georgia Middle District Court, On 17 April 2009:

Court Opinion or Order ORDER directing judgment for defendants on federal law claims. State law claims are dismissed without prejudice. Ordered by Judge Hugh Lawson on 4/17/2009.
A dozen similar lawsuits were filed the same day by Karen Camion, Faye Chachere, Jesse Clark, Callie Fielden, Reggie Griffin, Kathryn Harris, Willie Head, Joann Mosley, George Rhynes, Willie Roberson, Floyd Rose, and Mary Sherman. All appear to have had the same result.

Access to related documents is available by registering with PACER. They don’t charge until a user runs up a minimum amount of usage.


2005 arrests in Valdosta City Council meeting unconstitutional —Georgia Supreme Court

Some of the events the person posting as John J. Fretti described are elaborated on in this newspaper report. -jsq

Kelli Hernandez wrote 1 May 2006 in the VDT, Court rules arrests unconstitutional: Case involves 15 citizens arrested and charged with disrupting a lawful meeting

The case originally surfaced after 15 Valdosta citizens were arrested and charged with violating statute 16-11-34 (a), which provides “a person who recklessly or knowingly commits any act which may reasonably be expected to prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting, gathering or procession is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Charges came after the group allegedly disrupted a Valdosta city council meeting in May 2005. Calle Fielden and Leigh Touchton, two of those arrested, appealed to the courts on the grounds that the statute under which the citizens were charged was unconstitutionally vague and broad.

On April 21, 2005, Rev. Floyd Rose addressed the council

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Self-executing mode —John Fretti

Someone posting as Mayor John Fretti of Valdosta responded in a comment to Leigh Touchton. Mayor Fretti, please point us to where on the web is the video you mention. -jsq
Update 12:13 AM 23 April 2011: Mayor Fretti confirms (through three different channels) that this post was by him:
THat was my post. an attempt to reach out and help explain a few things. the video, as was al evidence in the case was exchanged durig the discovery part of the motion. the video should be with that.
I have asked him whether an open records request would produce the video. Back to the original post. -jsq
With all due respect to Leigh’s version of the arrest – and it is all on video, it happened in the end by way of self – executing mode. After repeated requests for the group to relinquish the podium and rose stating each time that they will not and we “must do what we have to do”. the Mayor asked if there was any objection from Council or city manager or attorney if WE allow Chief Frank Simons to approach the crowd and do what he sees necessary to allow the meeting to continue efficiently and effectively. There was some discussion and then John Fason (Cmdr.) asked if anyone wants to go to jail – to follow him. and they all did – no cuffs, no restraints. Peacefully. That’s it. and all on video for all to see. With respect to the charges filed, they were old STATE charges and were ruled out as overbroad and (something else). That was fine. There was an appeal by the solicitor General and again the old STATE laws were ruled overbroad and (something else). as they should have been. We have our own local laws and ordinances now that have been tested strong in court.

and now here it the Paul Harvey moment…

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