Reporters threatened with arrest at state Capitol

Reporters covering a protest outside Gov. Bill Lee’s office in the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon were threatened with arrest if they didn’t leave the building.

“It is our understanding that Highway Patrol officers followed their¬†standard protocol for when the Capitol building closes to the public,” Lee spokesman Chris Walker said in a statement to The Tennessean. “However, we do not condone threatening of arrest to reporters while they are doing their jobs in trying to cover news.”

It’s unclear when it became Safety Department protocol to remove journalists from the building at 4:30 p.m. The first floor of the Capitol houses the govenror’s office, Cabinet members, and the state’s constitutional officers (who are part of the legislative branch). The House and Senate chambers are located on the second floor, where meetings are often held late into the evening.

The protesters were demanding Lee call on state Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) to resign. Byrd is accused of sexual misconduct with teenage basketball players when he was a girls high school basketball coach in the 1980s.

15 Responses to Reporters threatened with arrest at state Capitol

  • Jim O'Hara says:

    I routinely wandered the halls of the Capitol after 4:30 in the 1980s. If I hadn’t, I would not have been able to report some of my best stories.

  • James White says:

    No one is supposed to be above the law. If you were asked to leave, that doesn’t mean you can stand around and document everyone else leaving ……

  • Leslie Parsley says:

    Apparently James White has not heard about the First Amendment. This was a blatant attempt to stifle the press as Tennessee’s ill-chosen governor attempts to goose step behind the president while taking the state down a very dark hole.

    • Lenny says:

      Apparently you never heard of the Second Amendment which gives these officers the power to stifle the librel press

    • James White says:

      Leslie, they are not stopping them from reporting or printing. Have you heard of Trespass. The Hull building is not a place you can go in anytime and do anything, it is run by someone. Reporters cant go to lots of places, your home for one.

  • Silence Dogood says:

    I am so weary of a biased press reporting fake news that I no longer care what happens to them. Sad for all of us. Kick their sorry behinds to the curb for all I care. They are no longer the 4th branch of government, IMHO.

  • Bob Fischer says:

    We’re a Sunshine State. We are committed to increasing access for the press, not shutting it down.

  • Donna Locke says:

    “Reporters” may have been pitched out, but were any actual journalists tossed out? Well, possibly Chas Sisk.

  • David Collins says:

    There are a few instances where the presence of press and others being excluded could be justified. The CIA, NSA, a jury deliberation room during a trial, etc., but beyond those few, if people on the public payroll are in a building that taxpayers paid for, you cynics better hope that members of the Fourth Estate are there doing their job by letting YOU know what these alleged public servants are up to.

  • JAMES B GARRETT says:

    I watched the news last night where the reporter was standing outside the building itself taking pictures of the protesters still inside by the Governor’s office. It is my opinion the State Troopers should apply the same threat universally to everyone. If the protesters remained there (which seems obvious they did) after the building closed they should have been arrested and taken to jail. From what I saw on the 10:00pm news they didn’t and I think that is wrong.

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