Nashville authorities have arrested left-wing activist Justin Jones three days after he caused an outburst at Sunday’s Marsha Blackburn rally in Nashville.
After Metro Nashville Police took Jones into custody Sunday and drove him downtown, Nashville Night Court Commissioner Carolyn Piphus refused law enforcement’s request to issue an arrest warrant to Jones on charges of criminal trespassing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, as reported by The Tennessee Star. All three charges are misdemeanors.
Later in the week, however, members of the office of Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk reviewed available evidence, including videos of Jones’ behavior. They agreed with law enforcement that arrest warrants were appropriate, said Nashville Police Spokesman Don Aaron.
“Mr. Jones resides within the East Precinct and officers from East attempted to serve the outstanding warrants during their shift Tuesday evening,” Aaron told The Tennessee Star.
“He was not home at the time. Mr. Jones surrendered himself for booking late this afternoon downtown.”
Authorities charged Jones with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.
For unknown reasons, authorities decided not to go forward with the disorderly conduct charge, Aaron said.
District Attorney General’s Office Spokesman Steve Hayslip said the new warrants came about after Assistant District Attorney Deb Smith presented the case against Jones to Judge Melissa Blackburn — who is of no relation to Marsha Blackburn.
Judge Blackburn found probable cause and issued the warrant against Jones, Hayslip said.
“It is believed that this is only the second time that the DA’s office has taken this kind of action where a night court magistrate’s ruling is overridden by a general sessions judge,” Hayslip said.
“The other case is Andrew Delke.”
Delke, as many news outlets have already reported, is the white police officer caught on video shooting and killing Daniel Hambrick. Authorities charged Delke with criminal homicide.
No one at the Davidson County Criminal Bond Office had any information on whether Jones had bonded out as of Wednesday evening.
Before turning himself in, Jones said on his Facebook page he was not home Tuesday night and was staying with a friend, “due to continued threats.”
“It is clear that these new charges are politically motivated,” Jones, a Vanderbilt Divinity student, wrote Wednesday morning.
“While it is disappointing that MNPD is using their power in this way, I will voluntarily turn myself in to their downtown office across from the jail after class at 4 pm.”
‘We will disrupt’
Tuesday, on the Kenny Smoov Morning Show out of Nashville, Jones said he only attended the Blackburn rally to hear what Blackburn had to say. Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was the event’s keynote speaker.
As The Star reported, however, organizers of the private event recognized Jones as someone with a history of causing trouble at other political events and gave him a direct order to leave.
Jones refused the order and later claimed the cops who showed up to force him out wanted to beat him. He also denied Tennessee Republican Party officials’ claim he intentionally went to the rally to cause a scene. Jones, who identifies as African-American, said GOP officials singled him out because of his race.
“We have spoken out about the fact that we live in a state where people don’t have health care and if you speak out and are a person of color then they take that as a threat.”
Tennessee GOP Communications Director Candice Dawkins called in to the show after Jones’ segment ended and said the event was a private political rally and that Jones’ account of what happened “was not accurate.”
Dawkins said she is also black and that no one at the rally singled her out because of the color of her skin.
Jones’ own words in 2016 contradicts claims he makes today that he engages only in peaceful political protest.
Jones accepted an American Civil Liberties Union award in November 2016.
According to video of the event, which Jones’ grandmother posted on her personal Facebook page, Jones called upon young people to fight for liberty and justice.
“Young people and those who are young at heart, we have five words for you,” Jones said as he accepted the award.
“See you in the streets. We will disrupt. We will organize. We will shut down injustice. Know we will not normalize hatred in this country.”
Nashville Police arrested Jones in August of last year during a vigil at Bicentennial Park to honor people killed during the Charlottesville “United the Right” rally, according to Patch.com.
Four people, including Jones, left the park and marched to the nearby First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds, the website went on to say.
Jones and the other three people tried to enter the park after a game ended, even though cops warned them not to. One of Jones’ companions reportedly resisted arrest. That suspected reportedly had marijuana, a grinder, and a small pipe in her purse. Another of Jones’ three friends purposefully tripped a police officer and later resisted arrest.
The website went on to say Jones “was told by police not to jump in front of moving marked police cars.”
Quoting from Jones’ arrest report, the website said he “then jumped in front of a moving patrol car causing a danger to himself and the action served no legitimate purpose.”
From Oakland to Nashville
As The Tennessee Ledger reported in a glowing piece, Jones grew up in Oakland, Calif. a city well known for producing far-left fringe protestors.
Jones came to Nashville after receiving an endowed scholarship to study social justice and activism at Fisk University, The Ledger reported.
In February 2017, The Star reported Jones was among several local left wing activists who harassed and intimidated State Sen. Mae Beavers and her staff at their offices at the State Capitol in Nashville.
As for what happened at the Blackburn rally last Sunday, several witnesses saw Jones apparently scuffling with police officers and other attendees.
Many people captured videos of the incident with their smartphones. One photograph captured an image of Jones grabbing a Blackburn supporter from behind while a police officer tried to restrain him.
Officers detained Jones in a squad car, and court officials refused to issue an arrest warrant for him on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass, as police officers requested. Instead, the court officials let Jones off with a citation.
As reported, officers also removed Jones’ companion Jeneisha Harris, 22.
Also, as reported, Jones met with Blackburn’s opponent, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this past summer.
The two men posed for a photo together, and Jones proudly uploaded it to his Facebook.
This apparently wasn’t a quick meeting, as the two men conveniently sat next to one another on an airplane trip and discussed left-wing political causes.
Jones said he wanted Bredesen’s commitment to fight for causes important to him.
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