Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Category: Police State
Demonstrator says police used excessive force to arrest him
"This is the same type flag, plastic with a plastic Eagle on top and there's nothing dangerous about this," Teddy Mitchell says. "My little grandson can bend this."
WATE 6 - The News Station, Knoxville, Tenn.
June 26, 2006
By SONU WASU
6 News Reporter
MORRISTOWN (WATE) -- The disabled veteran who says police used excessive force to arrest him during an anti-immigration rally in Hamblen County now faces formal charges and another court date.
Sixty-one-year-old Teddy Mitchell was formally charged in court Monday with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was trying to carry a flag onto courthouse grounds when officers took him into custody.
Mitchell claims officers used excessive force when they handcuffed and tasered him. He says he fell against these bushes when he was arrested after a brief struggle.
As amateur video of Mitchell's arrest plays, he says, "I said, 'You telling me I can't take the American flag in there?' He says, 'I'm telling you that.' I said, 'Can I take a Mexican flag in there?' About that time, they jumped me."
The arrest was caught on tape by a rally organizer, turning what was supposed to be a peaceful rally against illegal immigration into a fight for their own First Amendment rights.
Mitchell says he came to show support but wound up in jail instead. "To this day, no police officer has told me I was under arrest. No police officer has told me anything."
A Highway Patrol spokesperson tells 6 News officers could not allow Mitchell to carry the flagpole into the rally because it was too sharp.
"I say that's silly," Mitchell says. "This is the same type flag, plastic with a plastic Eagle on top and there's nothing dangerous about this. My little grandson can bend this."
In pictures of Mitchell's back, he says the faint red marks you can see were caused when an officer tasered him. "I've got holes in my back. It all happened so fast. I couldn't handle them four men, four young men."
6 News spoke to a Morristown Police Department spokeswoman. She says they have reason to believe a taser was used during the incident.
Any time an officer uses force, a higher chain of command at the police department reviews the incident. The department plans to interview all the officers involved.
Mitchell was arraigned in court Monday. His next court date is set for July 19.
He tells 6 News he plans to pursue legal action against the Morristown Police Department.
6 News Anchor/Reporter Tearsa Smith contributed to this report.
Rally against illegal immigration ends with arrest and chaos in Hamblen Co.
June 24, 2006
By SONU WASU
6 News Reporter
MORRISTOWN (WATE) -- A rally that was supposed to be peaceful ended with chaos Saturday afternoon outside the Hamblen County courthouse.
Things got testy for a while as police tried to stop a disabled veteran from carrying an American flag onto courthouse grounds.
Teddy Mitchell, 62, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Police say the flag pole he carried was too sharp and they did not want him to take it onto courthouse grounds.
Organizers of the group Citizens for Legal Immigration say they had received permission to peacefully take a stand against illegal immigrants. They say they were surprised to see the overwhelming police presence when they arrived.
A Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesperson, Lt. Glenn Cantwell, told 6 News troopers were prepared for the worst.
"You never know who may show up to these things," he said.
Authorities had received word that the Tennessee Minutemen and Ku Klux Klan members might show up to protest. Morristown Police Chief Roger Overholt asked THP to assist.
Lt. Cantwell says there were about 80 armed officers at the scene. They included officers from Morristown, a police SWAT team, Hamblen County deputies, THP officers, and a police helicopter.
Officers barricaded public parking lots around the courthouse.
Rally organizers say the show of force was intimidating. They tried to go on with their scheduled speeches, but said their public address system was not working because they had no electricity.
Organizer Audrey Lowe told 6 News the city and county violated the group's First Amendment rights. "One hundred percent violated," she said. "Our freedom of speech was violated. Our freedom of peaceful assembly was violated. Our freedom to fly our flag, the U.S. flag, on the public courthouse lawn was violated today-- big time."
Rally organizers moved to the VFW building on Highway 11E to continue their protest. They say they did not feel welcome outside the courthouse.
At least one rally organizer now plans to file a federal lawsuit against the city and county.
Hamblen County commissioner Tom Lowe says the action police took was a violation of the group's First Amendment rights.
"I am 95 percent sure that I and other members of the group, we'll all file a federal lawsuit against the city and the county and anybody else involved in shutting us down," Lowe said.
Mitchell, the man who was arrested, posted a $3,000 bond and has been released from jail.
America: It is time to stand up for your right!
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