Justin Jones, the Nashville activist who disrupted a rally for then-U.S. Senate Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn, is scheduled to have his day in court next month.
Jones, a Vanderbilt Divinity School student, will have a hearing January 11 at 8:30 a.m. That hearing is scheduled to take place at the Davidson County Criminal Court, said Stephen Hayslip, spokesman for Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk.
Jones’ hearing was originally scheduled for last Friday before it was reset, Hayslip said.
As reported, Jones said he only attended the Blackburn rally, in late October, to hear what Blackburn, now the U.S. Sen.-elect, had to say. Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was the event’s keynote speaker.
Blackburn held the event at the Ray Stevens’ CabaRay Showroom in Nashville.
As The Star reported, however, organizers recognized Jones as someone with a history of causing trouble at other political events and gave him a direct order to leave.
Jones refused and later claimed the police officers 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.
Metro Nashville Police took Jones into custody that day 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 that week, as reported, members of Funk’s office reviewed available evidence, including videos of Jones’ behavior. They agreed with law enforcement that arrest warrants were appropriate, said Nashville Police Spokesman Don Aaron, in late October.
Jones surrendered himself for booking, and authorities charged him with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.
For unknown reasons, authorities decided not to go forward with the disorderly conduct charge, Aaron said.
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 in late October.
“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.
Jones said on his Facebook page that the charges were politically motivated.
As The Tennessee Star reported, Jones harassed former Republican State Sen. Mae Beavers last year. Jones said he plans to visit Blackburn’s office after she takes the oath as a U.S. senator early next year.
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