Speaking up in a public meeting should result in violations of someone’s rights under the First (“peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”), Fifth (“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”), or Eighth (“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”) Amendments. Anti-fracking activist Alma Hasse is seeking legal redress. This could be a nationwide trend, with one local bully apologizing to Nydia Tisdale to avoid jail in Forsyth County, Georgia, after settling for $200,000 for being ejected from the Cummings, Georgia City Council for videoing. Nydia hasn’t filed charges yet for the case of the six missing screams, in which she was forcibly ejected from a public campaign event headlined by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for videoing. Maybe if you advertise a public meeting, you can’t throw someone out for videoing, and you can’t arrest somebody for speaking up in public government meeting.
Tuesday morning assailant Peggy Green apologized a year after Nydia Tisdale asked. The judge remarked he was happy at the outcome so nobody had to face jail time. So, if you want your meeting to be private, don’t advertise it as “open to the public”. And when someone shows up with a camera, don’t try to throw them out, especially not physically.
Previously we called Cumming someplace worse than here. But look at this:
A city of Cumming audio-visual recording policy sheet was available outside council chambers.
“Handheld audio and/or visual recording devices may be used from any location within the public seating area,” wrote Gerald Blackburn, city administrator. “No audio and/or visual recording device may be set up in the aisles.”
Hm, that’s better than the Lowndes County Commission, whose chair Ashley Paulk famously said,Continue reading
Eric Stirgus wrote for the AJC 25 April 2012, PolitiFact: For the record, it’s OK to record council meetings,
The woman, Nydia Tisdale, was attempting to film the council’s meeting April 17, but she was told that was not going to happen.
“We don’t allow filming inside of the City Hall here,” Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said, “unless there is a specific reason.”
Hm, what does state law say?
Title 50, Section 14 of the Georgia Open Meetings Act:
“[v]isual, sound, and visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted”
Stirgus notes some irony:
In a strange bit of timing, Tisdale was tossed from the council meeting on the same day Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 397, a revised state law on open meetings and records aimed at providing greater access to documents and public meetings.
The Georgia Attorney General’s Office is investigating, as well it should. The investigation shouldn’t take long, since the entire incident is on video. Meanwhile, the mayor keeps digging:
Gravitt also explained that he had concerns that allowing one camera and tripod in would embolden multiple people to bring in cameras and tripods into a meeting.
Then people might know what’s going on!
Here’s the video:Continue reading