TVA and Roane County police recently detained volunteers from the United Mountain Defense while they were setting up air monitors around the site of the TVA coal sludge disaster that happened earlier this year in Harriman, Tennessee.
In this video, an unnamed volunteer is detained by police when he refused to show his drivers license, offering up his passport instead, a perfectly legal option. If the police ask you for ID, you have to comply, but a passport is a perfectly legal piece of identification (when you're not driving a car), though there may be state laws in Tennessee that require you to provide a state issued ID card when asked by police.
This video is a little more egregious. UMD volunteer Matt Jones was arrested while he was dropping off a couple of grandmothers, one of them half blind, after a community meeting discussing the coal ash sludge spill.
He was initially arrested for the TVA police for driving in the area without "a tag" or the required resident. When the grandmother he was driving home spoke to the police and told them she was getting a ride from him, it appears the police changed their reasoning behind the arrest to trespassing in a motor vehicle.
I have to hand it to the UMD. They not only documented both police encounters extremely well with video cameras, they actually had lawyers on the phone the whole time.
The UMD contends that their volunteers have been harassed by the TVA police, an assertion that's not hard to take serious in the light of these videos.
I put in a few calls with the TVA police asking for their comments on the case but haven't heard back. I will report back if and when they get in touch with me.
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