Vanderbilt Divinity School student Justin Jones is out of jail on his own recognizance, four days after he disrupted a Marsha Blackburn rally in Nashville.
This didn’t go down, however, without Jones and his allies stirring up a lot of drama over the arrest and blaming people other than themselves for what happened. Part of that drama included their own stated resentment over a judge ordering Jones’ arrest — especially because it was a white judge.
As reported, Nashville police took Jones, 23, into custody and drove him downtown after his outburst at the Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom last weekend.
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.
Later in the week, however, Judge Melissa Blackburn — who is Caucasian — found probable cause to arrest Jones on the criminal trespassing and resisting arrest charges after presented with evidence by the office of District Attorney Glenn Funk. Blackburn, of no relation to Marsha Blackburn, issued a warrant, as The Tennessee Star reported.
Upon learning this, Jones opted to turn himself in.
After his release, he took to his personal Facebook page and said law enforcement officials detained him for six hours before they released him on his own recognizance.
“After turning myself in. Tired. Tired of racism. Tired of injustice. Tired of this oppressive system. We have work to do. Shift, America,” Jones wrote.
In a follow-up post Thursday, Jones said police are “intent on pushing prosecution,” and this is the consequence of their arbitrary power. He said he has a court date scheduled for December.
“The media in our state defers to the dominant narrative of power. So I share this in hopes that light will shine on the darkness around us,” Jones wrote.
“I question Tennessee. Is this the Tennessee we want— where folks can be beaten, arrested, and jailed for the same charge (twice) simply for trying to offer a counter to the narrative of racism, violence, and hate?”
In the comments section for that post, Jones said his court date is scheduled for Dec. 7.
A video accompanied the post. That video showed an officer escorting a shackled Jones as he recited “Ella’s Song,” an old civil rights era protest melody.
Members of the Tennessee Activist Coalition also livestreamed the event on their Facebook page. According to them, they are a group of local progressives.
In the video, one woman complains about how the arresting law enforcement officer “found a white judge to sign the warrants” to arrest Jones.
Another woman, this one in the background, was heard to say “I can’t believe he went to a white magistrate.”
The “he” the unidentified woman referred to is likely the arresting officer, Alexander Donald, an African-American.
Members of the group also complained supporters of both Blackburn and President Donald Trump have threatened Jones’ life since Sunday’s rally.
The woman who accompanied and sat with Jones Sunday, Jeneisha Harris of Memphis, also appeared on the video.
The Blackburn rally, Harris said, was “traumatizing.”
“I was spit on. I was called the N word. I was harassed,” Harris said on the live stream.
“I was assaulted by several people who literally pushed me. It was a horrific experience. Definitely a horrific experience. I am still trying to process everything.”
Harris caused her own disturbance Sunday, as reported.
A woman from Washington, D.C. who attended the gathering pressed charges against Harris for alleged assault.
Because no law enforcement officers witnessed the alleged assault they only gave Harris a citation.
As reported, several witnesses saw Jones apparently scuffling with police officers and other attendees Sunday. This, after private security ordered him to leave the showroom — which was private property.
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.
Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said Jones, based on available evidence, did not cooperate with law enforcement.
Jones has a long history of aggressive political activism in Nashville that presses the boundaries of what is legally acceptable.
In February 2017, The Star reported Jones, for instance, 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.
While accepting an American Civil Liberties award in 2016, Jones threatened “to disrupt” political functions and political institutions with which he did not agree.
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